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Monday, April 20, 2015

So why not just kill Windows Phone?

So why not just kill Windows Phone? “Windows Phone is small, relatively speaking. But absolutely speaking it still sells a lot of units. And they can’t not have an OS. So it’d be nice if they had more market on mobile, but having zero just topples the whole strategy.”

Now, where have I heard that before? - Oh yeah, I've been saying the same thing for years.
Microsoft can't not have a mobile/phone OS. I have to remind "mobile industry experts" when they say Microsoft should just scrap Windows Phone.

If you've built Windows Phone or Windows Store apps you can cross-promote them with AdDuplex to get more users.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Game rating certificates for Windows Apps games

Today, helping someone submit their first Windows Phone game to the store the issue of gaming rating certification came up. Particularly about knowing which countries/markets required certification and how to get those certifications.

Fortunately there's a good blog post that summarises this and includes links to help you get the certificates you need:

Posted here for my reference as much as yours :)

If you've built Windows Phone or Windows Store apps you can cross-promote them with AdDuplex to get more users.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My first 24 hours with a Microsoft band

If you're in the USA then you've been able to get one for months but they only became available in the UK yesterday.

Here are my notes, thoughts and observations on my first 24 hours with one.

  • According to the sizing strip my wrist was to big for one but I got the largest and it does fit. Which was a good start.
  • It came with the battery 80% charged which was good.
  • The getting started guide was good enough. I managed to customize the band how I think I want it in terms of theme and tiles.
  • I didn't wear it overnight. I wasn't sure I'd find it comfortable. Maybe I'll try that another day.
  • When I put it on in the morning it said I'd already burnt 800 calories. Hmmm. I'm not sure how confident I am in believing that though. Or maybe I do burn about 100 hours an hour lying down.
  • Scanning the barcode in the Starbucks app when buying my morning coffee on the way to work was possible, eventually. More on this isn another post. But, at least it was an interesting talking point with the barista who hadn't seen one before.
  • I wear a watch on my left wrist and didn't want to stop, so wore the band on my right wrist. I had the display on the inside of my wrist so I could more easily interact with it. Being right handed I didn't expect to be able to type on it and with very large hands this makes typing on it harder. I'm sure I could learn how to type on it if I felt inclined to try. Maybe one day.
  • Working at a desk all day I normally take my watch off so the strap doesn't bang on the desk. I took my watch off but kept the band on to get more experience with using it. I found I was holding my arm higher than normal though.
  • At lunchtime I played football for 45 minutes. It was just a casual 7 aside on the field by the river. I played in goal and kept the band on. I only did this as I could fit it under my glove. I wanted to keep it on to get the full biometric data. The band survived fine but I don't think I'll do that again. I was aware of it on my wrist during the time and if I was playing a more competitive match where I'd throw myself about even more then I'd be less confident in it's survival and definitely wouldn't want the distraction of being aware of it.
  • I know of several fitbits that have been lost by people running around on a football pitch. I'm not sure I'd wear the band while playing sport. I would wear it when going for a run though.
  • In the afternoon I became more aware of how tight the band was and quite how I was wearing it on my wrist. I found I adjusted it regularly without finding a position that stayed comfortable.
  • Because I have tiles for SMS, email and general notifications on the band I found I was getting more notifications than was useful. In response to this I actually added some extra rules to my inbox to lower the number of notifications I get.
  • One other downside of the way the notifications work on the band is that if my wrist vibrates I look at it but then have to scroll though the tiles to look for the new notification. Ideally I want a quick, easy way to see the latest notification(s) regardless of app.
  • Also, the notifications in the notification center on my phone aren't kept in sync with the band. If I have no notifications on the phone and I get a new notification which I view on the band, the band may also show older notifications which have since been cleared from the phone.
  • At the end of a days use the battery was down to 50%. That bodes well for not having to charge it every day.
  • Even with the battery seemingly lasting several days, because it uses a custom charger I'm thinking I'd like another one so I can treat it like my other chargers where I have at least one of each type in at home and one of each in my bag.

Do you have a Microsoft band or thinking about getting one?
What are your thoughts and experiences?
Got any suggestions on getting the most from it?

If you've built Windows Phone or Windows Store apps you can cross-promote them with AdDuplex to get more users.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Interpreting the statistics in the AdDuplex monthly report

Every month AdDuplex, the leading cross promotion network for Windows Phone and Windows Store apps, releases a report with statistics on devices running apps that have their advertising controls embedded. You'll find the latest one (for March 2015) on their blog at

*disclaimer - if you didn't know, I'm a paid advocate for AdDuplex and help in preparing the report*

As happens every couple of months, there has been some discussion about the relevance and completeness of the data used to prepare the report.
I want to address some of these points and add some clarification over what the report actually shows.

Firstly, let's be clear on what the report is.
The report is an analysis of the devices used to show ads from the AdDuplex network on a particular day. It does not attempt or claim to be an analysis of all Windows Phone devices in use worldwide.

If it's not a complete picture, what's the point of the report?
The report serves three purposes:
1.  To provide information to developers who are or are considering using the network.  This was the ultimate aim when the report was first published. To help developers. After all helping developers to best promote their apps is one of the core aims behind AdDuplex.
2.  To raise the profile of the company. Because no one else is publishing such reports this is the best view of the device landscape available and so is newsworthy in appropriate circles.
3.  It’s better than nothing. Without this report, how would you know which devices are actually in use? At best you'd rely on anecdotal evidence or data collected from a smaller sample set.

It's the first point that is most important!
With this information developers can be aware of which devices are most likely to be used to run their app. It's really easy to assume that other people are like you and, just as much as anyone else, developers often fall into this trap.
In general, most developers I speak to who have and use a Windows Phone have a higher spec device. At the moment they're mostly the Lumia 930, 1020 or 1520. Based on this it would be easy for developers to only think about such devices and how their app looks, performs and behaves on such.
However, through looking at the data in the report it is clear that the majority of devices in use are not like these. 60.8% of devices in use are Lumia 5XX and Lumia 6XX devices. These devices have smaller, lower resolution screens and less powerful processors. Without paying attention to it, the experience of apps across different devices can change and be less than desirable in some instances. For this reason it is important to check apps on different devices. This is even more important when the majority of [potential] users are on such low spec devices.

But this still isn't representative of all devices!
There's an argument that people who pay more for a device are less likely to be tolerant of ads in their apps and so won't use them or will pay to remove them. The corollary of this being that people who pay less for their device have less disposable income and so are more likely to be tolerant of having ads displayed in their apps. This argument is based on anecdotal evidence at best as is also likely to be skewed by cultural biases as people in some parts of the world are more tolerant of ads and readily accept them.
Whether the opinion or anecdotal evidence reflects reality or not, this is a point that needs to be addressed.
AdDuplex are not able to answer this question, don't attempt to and for the sake of informing the people who are using their network it doesn't matter.
- Due to the way that the data is gathered, from apps that are displaying ads, it is not possible to report on devices running apps that don't show ads.
- The report is clear is saying it shows data based only on devices running apps that contain their ad control.
- If you're a developer looking to show adverts in your app then the devices of people who don't use apps that contain ads are not as relevant.

For those of you who are particularly interested, here’s an official comment from AdDuplex on this matter:
The accuracy of the stats we gather is obviously affected by a lot of factors. These range from differences in incomes in various countries to accessibility of mobile internet to the effect of bigger apps and games that we have and the audiences that they target. An argument that people with higher end phones are more likely to buy paid apps is probably correct on a logical level, but it doesn’t mean the opposite – people who are likely to buy paid apps are not less likely to use free apps too. People who are “allergic” to ads come in different shapes and forms of personal income and device preferences (not everyone who can afford an expensive phone necessarily buys one). On the other hand the argument could be made that more of the owners of cheaper phones don’t have access to mobile internet (or have a limited/expensive access) making them less likely to see the ads in apps. More people who buy cheaper smartphones necessarily use them as one (never download any apps at all). It is also worth noticing that not all of the apps and games run on 512mb memory devices, potentially skewing the stats in favor of more expensive devices. All-in-all you can have a number of arguments tilting the scales in favor of one theory or the other, but there’s no data to quantify these effects. At the end of the day with data coming from more than 5,000 apps of various types and calibers, I think the results even out quite nicely and, while no statistical report can be 100% accurate, I’m sure we paint a pretty credible picture of the ecosystem as a whole. And I’ve heard off the record confirmation of this from people who’ve seen the “real” numbers.

Wouldn't it be nice to have more?
Yes, from a point of curiosity there are lots of things that it would be useful to know about what devices are in use, where they're used and what apps are used on them.
There are also strategic and tactical decisions that could be better made with this data.

So why aren't reports with this data published?
The main reason is that the only people with the complete data are Microsoft and there are almost certainly competitive and legal reasons not to release all the data. They have released some in the past (the last was in September 2014 but there is a lot they haven't shared with us.

Could anyone else provide more information?
Possibly. It depends on what data you want though.
If you're just after an analysis of all types of devices in use you need analytics from a publisher (or publishers) who has a free app (or apps) used worldwide.
If you want to compare free, ad supported and paid apps then you need aggregated data of all such apps across all territories you're interested in.

There are probably only a handful of publishers who have sufficient data to provide this analysis.
Other advertising networks or analytics providers probably have the information to produce such reports.
Here's the catch though, there is no incentive or commercial interest for any of them to produce and share such a report so I don't expect any of them to do so any time soon. Should anyone do so, I be as keen to read it as anyone.

It may not be everything that everyone would like but the monthly AdDuplex report provides an insight into what devices are being used by the people who use ad supported apps.
It's also the best public information there is.

If you've built Windows Phone or Windows Store apps you can cross-promote them with AdDuplex to get more users.

Friday, March 20, 2015

I've started building my first windows 10 app

No, I don't have the SDK but that doesn't matter.

I'm building an app that will exclusively target the phone but requires capabilities that aren't available today (in 8.1) but do currently exist on the desktop for Windows apps. 
I'm assuming that what Microsoft are telling me about being able to build one app that can run on all devices and the convergence of APIs will mean that the capability will be available on the phone when the Windows 10 SDK is available.

Planning is the most important step in development anyway so doing most of the work before the API is available (but assuming it will be like the existing desktop version) means I'm not blocked by a lack of SDK.

I want to be ready for when the tools and store become available so I can make the app available as soon as possible.

What if the API is very different or doesn't allow the functionality I want when it is released? 
I'm allowing for some level of difference in the APIs so am not expecting it to be completely painless when the tools are available. 
If it's a very large difference and requires massive effort I can reevaluate then. 
If the app won't be possible when the SDK is available I'm not losing a massive amount of effort as it's a simple app. 
I think the risk is worth the initial effort and I'm learning things now in terms of having to think about what the app should be like and how I will design it for a great Windows 10 experience.

If you've built Windows Phone or Windows Store apps you can cross-promote them with AdDuplex to get more users.