Strange developments in mobile app stores

As the mobile operating system race heats up, a key battleground is the app store and, therefore, the attraction of developers. Without all those cool apps, you may as well pack it in.

As the mobile operating system race heats up, a key battleground is the app store and, therefore, the attraction of developers. Without all those cool apps, you may as well pack it in.

Apple's iPhone is currently the frontrunner, with its many thousands of free and paid-for applications. But some worrying news has come through. A clause in Apple's developer agreement has been noticed that deals with refunds - if an app gets "returned", Apple wants the developer to reimburse it (Apple) with not only the 70 percent of the app price that the developer received, but also the 30 percent that Apple took, and now has to reimburse to the customer.

So much for try-it-out-and-see. I can imagine how developers might be less than pleased at this, er, development.

Apple's clause is nothing, however, compared to what Microsoft is reportedly trying on with those developers who have expressed interest in creating apps for Redmond's soon-to-launch Marketplace.

Microsoft is charging those developers $99 per app, with the first five being free. Fair enough. But here's the rub: IStartedSomething.com is reporting that submitting updates to those apps (y'know, fixing bugs, enhancing functionality and so on) will also cost the developer the full $99 per update - which is hardly an incentive to improve your product. Oh, and Microsoft is charging developers $99 for submitting free-to-the-end-user apps.

As the author of that piece asks, is Microsoft interested in expanding its developer base, or is it more interested in short-term profit? By the way, I rang Microsoft's press office earlier to seek confirmation of the reported fees and developer relations strategy, but have not yet received any reply.

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