The Marketplace implementation on Windows Phone 7 is actually pretty good – the apps are categorised in the first instance and also listed by in other formats (new, top, etc). The background changes to promote specific apps from visit to visit too, with the same ‘peek’ navigation style as employed with other WP7 natively designed apps. And there are some cracking apps too.
I’ve download a few apps, and a bunch of games(!). While I’ve had my share of hassles in downloading them – either through the app not wanting to download at all or not being able to purchase the app – that’s seemingly been atmospheric. Wait a few minutes and start again. Similar to the AAS (Apple App Store) the Marketplace will not allow you to download a massive app when you’re not on WiFi, with the aim being to minimise your telco data usage. This is necessary as some games are decidedly sizable and you could easily eat up your monthly data allowance by downloading a couple of larger apps (e.g. games).
The apps in the Marketplace are, on the whole, VERY expensive. There are a number of free apps – some of which are quite good – but on the whole the starting price is $1.30 per app, an upwards from there to some of the better games retailing at $9! On a smartphone this struck me as pretty steep, but I guess these prices may mature and reduce as more apps become available & the quality across the board lifts with the competition. Still - $9! That when purchasing apps there are a couple too many “are you sure” steps is annoying, but not impossible to put up with.
When purchasing an app you have two options for payment: Charge back to your phone bill or use the credit card you have setup with yoru XBOX Live account. The former method could lead to some very significant bill shock for post-paid accounts; not sure how it would work for pre-paid accounts (may not be possible). Using the credit card option seems safest and in line with the AAS. I can’t speak to the complaints of people who are being hit with an additional conversion charge when purchasing apps with their credit card as I’ve not seen that on my two purchases to date.
The real win for the WP7 Marketplace is app trial mode. Essentially, developers can build into their app what is and isn’t included when someone wants to check it out. This could be as simple as only 1 level available, or disable achievement unlocking, or alter your ability to save/publish the outcome of your work. It also saves a bunch of hassle in having duplicate apps (one free trial, one fully paid) that you’d need to download and install, and taking up valuable space in your Marketplace. I’ve downloaded a couple of trial apps & games, and in a couple of instances it prompted me to purchase or uninstall straight away based on what was available in trial mode.
While the apps – particularly the games – are expensive, there are some crackers to get immediately. Games have featured highly on my list to see how this affected my GamerScore and also to see the turn-based play implementation… but I’ve found it very hard to turn two of them off - Star Wars:Battle for Hoth and Max & the Magic Marker. SW:BFH is a pretty cool tower defence game using Star Wars characters & weapons taken from the scenes on Hoth during The Empire Strikes Back. It’s simple, addictive, and STAR WARS! M&TMM is a physics-based drawing game in the same vein as Doodle Jump, however the overall style is what has sucked me in (download the trial and see what I mean). Tough for those with fat finger syndrome such as myself, but still a whole bunch of hour-killing fun.
As a delivery mechanism for apps for a Windows Phone 7 device, it’s pretty good. In comparison to the AAS it’a step up in style, but a step down in content. It looks pretty nice. It’s not like you can use the app store from the other on the platform, so you are kinda stuck with it. Excuse me, but I have to go play Max & the Magic Marker again now…
DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I have been given a HTC Mozart with Windows 7 Phone by Telstra free of charge to review. The comments expressed by me reflect my own user experience and personal opinion and are not made on behalf of Telstra. Or Microsoft. Or AuTechHeads. Or my wife, even.
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