On July 7th, the first “grass root” (not started by key forces like Microsoft or Nokia) Windows Phone forum kicked start in Beijing. The event was meant to be the first of an ongoing series, and organized by OpenXLive. OpenXLive is a Chinese social gaming platform that is more developers-oriented. We know that Xbox Live doesn’t exist in China for a series of legal problems. OpenXLive came into being to address need for social gaming. It offers features like in-game achievement unlocking, social network integration, leaderboard, cloud storage, etc, effectively serving the social needs for game developers.
As a platform, OpenXLive has extensive connections among all sorts of roles in the Windows Phone ecocystem: from average users all the way up to investors. Starring at the forum were prominent and pioneering Chinese Windows Phoen developers, Microsoft employee (representing himself, not the company), and investors with significant portfolio in mobile apps sector, such as Matrix Partners.
In the discussion and interactions, a few interesting things were made clear:
- According to OpenXLive’s server statistics, the Chinese Windows Phone user base, although nowhere as big as that of iOS or Android at the moment, is quite impressive, and is growing at remarkable speed.
- Microsoft’s June 20th “No Update for Windows Phoen 7 Devices” might sound depressing, but the charts and figures from OpenXLive indicated that users don’t care so much about it. There’s no signs of people fleeing the ecosystem so far.
- Investors are interested in Windows Phone developments, and remarked that “if you are looking forward to a lasting ecosystem outside Android and iOS, Windows Phone is probablly your last chance.”
- For developers, profiting from the Chinese Marketplace is problematic right the moment, with every bill made in US dollars, totally lacking the support for local currency. But free apps with advertisements could serve as a temporary solution. Guohead and MSN China are already providing ad SDKs for Windows Phone developers.
- Full support (both app purchase and in-app purchase) for Chinese currency will be unlocked as soon as Windows Phone 8 debuts in China. Right now is a great chance for developers to hoard as much market share as possible, and get ready for the big day.
It’s certainly good to see various roles down the Windows Phone platform in China getting together and working as a united force. Other than that, I think it’s a great time for developers in other countries to consider China as a target market. Just this weekend we saw the news from Adduplex that China and India are quickly catching up with the US to be come major Windows Phone countries. Raking in money might be a bit hard right now, but the frustration won’t last long. It’s always nice to explore the New Frontier early.
We would love to be the bridge between the western and the oriental worlds. If you are a developer and is planning to test the water in the Chinese facet of the Marketplace, feel free to contact us to shoot your questions and concerns. It could be about anything, like localization, marketing, ad SDKs, Chinese internet censorship and its impact on app development, you name it. We will provide as much help as possible. Just leave a comment here, or find me on Twitter (@Chassit).