Windows 8: Are Metro apps mobile apps or computer apps?

The Metro apps that will run on Windows 8 systems look like apps on other mobile platforms. Consumers may expect similar pricing as a result.

More details about Windows 8 are getting revealed since Microsoft shared a lot about the next OS at the recent BUILD conference. Many are puzzling over the schizophrenic nature of Windows 8 and its ability to run "desktop" apps alongside the "Metro" apps with those fancy live tiles. Microsoft confirmed that Metro apps will only be available for purchase through its app store with a 30 percent cut of sales. This leads to the question of how customers will perceive Metro apps. Are they mobile apps or computer apps?

This distinction is significant, as customers of mobile apps treat them differently than computer apps. Users have no problem spending decent cash for computer apps that do what they need, but the opposite has been proven with mobile apps. Those apps are either very cheap (even a buck), or even free with in-app purchases providing the business model. This has been the case with iOS apps, and it is expected it will be the case with Android when data is available. The latter only recently enabled in-app purchases so it's too early to tell.

Distimo has been following the mobile app situation closely, and in a recent report stated that a whopping 72 percent of revenue generated by iOS apps comes from in-app purchases. The apps are given away by the developer to get the apps in customers' hands, and then sell stuff inside the app. The freemium model is becoming the proper business model for mobile apps in iOS, and will likely be the case with Android apps.

Windows 8 developers planning on producing Metro apps should be thinking about this. While the Metro interface will be on all Windows 8 systems, it is the interface that is optimized for tablets. It is only natural that consumers will expect apps to be similar in cost to those on other tablets. Developers that release a $50 Metro app may find it compared to a $3 iPad app, and that isn't going to play well.

The decision of Microsoft to make Windows 8 run on all classes of devices may end up hurting the developers of Metro apps due to the public perception. It is not clear how this might play out in the real world, and that requires a leap of faith by Metro app developers just getting started.

Image credit: Distimo

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