What I Learned In WP7 – Issue 15

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What I Learned In WP7 – Issue 15

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I learned something about pricing your applications in the Windows Phone Marketplace  today that I never expected.  (Keep in mind this entire article is based on my sample size of ONE, but it’s an interesting thought exercise.)

Trial Mode might actually HURT your sales.

Let me explain:  I have been very diligent with my applications in the marketplace to make sure that they offer a compelling Trial mode to my users.  I want them to download it, and try it, so that they will ultimately buy it.  None of my applications are crazy addictive, or something that I thought would sell millions of copies.  Not by a long shot.  But I did think that I would sell SOME.

In fact, I am selling some.  Maybe 5 copies a day across all three of my paid applications (5 total, not 15).  Probably right in line with what I expected for the time/effort I put into some of these applications.  But I tried an experiment recently, and it had interesting results.

I am speaking at the CodeMash conference this week, and in one of my sessions, I am building a simple Twitter app alongside an iPhone developer and an Android developer.  We each get 15 minutes to build the same application.  (In other words, it’s incredibly simple.)

I decided it would be cool to have the application I was building for the session be available for download after the session, so I submitted it to the Marketplace over the holidays.  I had no trouble getting it submitted, but I decided to price it at 99 cents, with no trial mode (conversely, the rest of my applications offer limited functionality in Trial mode.)

Twitter Stalker (the app I’m talking about) sold 5 copies on New Year’s Day.  And has continued to sell at a higher rate than my other applications.  It’s description even says that “This is an application that was built as a demonstration at the CodeMash conference in Sandusky, OH on January 13, 2011.”


Now, I know that there are numerous factors that go into something like this, and one anomaly does not mean correlation.  For example, people might just be looking for a new Twitter client, and willing to spend the 99 cents to find out if it’s good.  On the other hand, if I had offered a trial mode, then they certainly would NOT have spent the 99 cents afterwards.  The app is really nothing special.

So, here’s your food for thought:

When building a simple application, is it more important for your users to LOVE your application?  Or is it more important to you that they BUY it?

I propose that if you’re building something simple, that can easily be explained in your description, perhaps a Trial mode isn’t something you should offer.  Perhaps people would be willing to pay 99 cents to find out if your application is what they’re looking for.  By offering a trial, you’re actually giving them the chance to NOT like it.

What do you think?


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