To complete this series from part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4, the last topic is thinking about multiple apps together. In the Windows Store, apps must stand on their own (suites are not supported), and yet if you are selling more than one app it certainly helps create marketing relationships between them. In other words, you can build upon the idea of lite and full apps, and think about how a diversity of apps and monetization models can help you build your overall business.
For example, having some great free apps can help build a solid reputation for your business, thereby encouraging users to check out your other paid offerings. Because each app in the Store can include links to your website, each app is a doorway to the rest of your business as presented on the web. In this way, free apps can serve as giveaways (also known as loss leaders) that many businesses use to get customers in the door where they can then experience additional products.
Although the Windows Store certification policy does not allow apps to be interdependent (that is, you cannot require the installation of a second app to install the first), you can make them interoperate such that having those apps installed together makes additional scenarios possible. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through the Share contract, where you can use custom formats to exchange richer information than the standard formats allow. Another powerful means is protocol activation, wherein you use a specific URI scheme like bingmaps:// to allow one app to delegate specific tasks to another. This is limited to one-way communication, mind you, but can still be a powerful way to have those apps work together and light up more features.
And you can certainly advertise these interop features on each app’s description page in the Store. That is, while you can’t require one app to be installed to use another, Store policy does not prohibit making mention of what’s possible when you do. You can say, “By also installing the companion SuperApp, these additional features become available:….”
As a final note, I want to mention a growing opportunity that’s really just in its early stages. Many apps have a backend service that provide much of their runtime data. If that data might be useful to other apps, consider making your web API available and monetizing access to it. This way you have another facet of your business to develop that is focused on developers as customers, rather than just end-users. And you can also use services like Mashape and Mashery to help you in the process.
And with that, we conclude this series. I hope it’s been helpful and inspiring, and I look forward to any comments you have on monetization strategies.