I hear lots of complaints about Windows Phone not having many users and developers frustrated that they haven't made loads of money from the apps they've developed.
I think there are 4 ways you can make money though:
- Get paid to build apps for other people
- Build apps which allow you to monetize another service
- Build a targeted app and promote it appropriately
- Get very lucky
For most people these are listed in order of likelihood of being successful.
Let's look at them in more detail.
1. Get paid to build apps for other people
*disclosure: this is how I make my living*
There are companies that want windows phone apps but don't have the staff, resources or experience to develop them. In this scenario they will typically look to agencies or contractors to create the apps for them. (Note that some agencies look to contractors too, but this is becoming less common as agencies are increasing/improving their Windows Phone development skills and experience.)
This is still a very niche market and the companies looking to hire for these roles want experts who can get things done and have a proven level of experience with the platform. Design and project management skills also come in handy too.
If you have the skills and experience this could work for you.
2. Build apps which allow you to monetize another service
This is the way that provides the most opportunity for the widest number of companies to make money on the platform in the short to medium term.
The idea is that you have an existing service which people pay to use and by building a client app that runs on Windows Phone you can reach more users or increase engagement with existing users. Both of which should increase income (and hopefully profit).
If you've got an idea for a service that could extend its reach by being made available via a mobile app Windows Phone is probably not the best platform to start with as you'll probably be better off by targeting a platform where you could reach/get a greater number of users (who you can monetize) for the same level of development effort.
If you do target Windows Phone first it can be a differentiator for you and an opportunity to create a unique marketing/promotional story. I know a couple of companies/apps which have done this.
3. Build a targeted app and promote it appropriately
If you think that the addressable market of total Windows Phone owners contains a large enough subsection that you can market and sell to enough of them with a relevant app that you can make money then this may be an approach that could make you a profit. Remember, you need to consider all the ways that an app can be monetized. Don't just think about an initial sales price. If you have one.
If considering this approach be sure to consider and treat the app you're creating like any other product. Remember: "Think product, not app".
4. Get very lucky
You could release an app with no great level of advance planning or promotion and have it turn out to be wildly successful. You may have heard stories of people who have done just that. Unfortunately though the reason you hear such stories is that they are remarkable and the exception. If it was common it wouldn't be news worthy.
If you're relying on this method you may want to consider a lottery ticket instead. That's not to say that you can't make money from apps, just that you shouldn't rely on luck if that's what you want to achieve.
Have I missed anything else? [How ]do you make money form Windows Phone?