Thursday, 19 January 2012

How I didn't get a Windows Phone 7 for free

Some time ago (polish portal for developers, staying in very close relations with Microsoft) announced a competition called Geek Club. The basic rule was quite simple: write 5 apps for Windows Phone and get an actaul device for free. There were 2 additional requirements:
  1. In order to be accepted by Codeguru the app needs to be published on Marketplace first
  2. The app needs to make use of at least 2 listed features (like GPS, SQL CE data storage etc)
At first I didn't think about participating, mainly because of 3 reasons:
  • Unless you're a student, you have to pay 100$ to be able to publish apps to Marketplace
  • Didn't really believe in WP7 (low market share, pessimistic prognosis)
  • Writing 5 good apps seemed to be a lot of effort, especially that I don't know silverlight
However, after Maciej Grabek gave us a presentation on Windows Phone development and showed how easy it is I decided to give it a try. Also, I started to hear more & more positive opinions abut WP7 from my colleagues. The turning point was when I learned that the apps don't have to be good at all! :) They don't need to do anything useful or even funny, as long as they fulfill the 2 requirements presented above. This means I could treat the whole challenge as a good learning experience rather than a serious app development project. I didn't have to care much about functionality, like I normally would when working an application. Instead, I could focused on technical details, so it was rather a technology evaluation project.

Having said all that about good learning opportunity etc. I must admit I was still hoping to get that free phone :) But I didn't... I submitted my 5 apps (even 6 just in case) at the end of last year, but till now only 2 got checked by Codeguru team and since yesterday there are no more phones (the pool was limited). Apparently there was much more apps submitted than Codeguru team could tests.

Anyway, I'm still glad I took part in that competition. Here are most important benefits:
  • I've learned fundamentals of WP7 development, Silverlight basics, app lifecycle & Marketplace submission process
  • I know how to make use of basic features: touch screen interface interaction, GPS, Accelerometer, Microphone, Internal Storage (SQL CE), playing sounds, Bing Maps, ...
  • Got convinced that WP7 platform is actually quite nice and userfriendly
  • I can exchange the points I've earned for my apps (or will earn once Codeguru finally tests them) for other prizes like free Microsoft exams, Office Suite etc.
  • I had lots of fun :)
Now for the bad part:
  • The competition lacked transparency. Theoretically the apps to be tested by Codeguru team were put into a FIFO queue. However, there were multiple complains from developers saying that they are waiting for any response for a long time while others, who submitted their apps later, already know their results. The submission process did not leave any trace of your submission (no confirmation email, just generic message on a website) and there was no tracking system. As result people didn't know what was happening with their apps.
  • Too little testers - since I'm still waiting for my apps to be tested I assume they have not enough resources and the they didn't expect such high interest
  • Because of the competition rules the Marketplace was flooded with crappy, useless apps that were created just to get the phone (including some of my apps I must admit)
To summarize: I think we should still be grateful to Codeguru that they organized this and offered us a very motivating way to learn. Many of participants would have never learned how easy WP7 development is if there were no competition like this. However, next time they organize a similar contest they should focus on transparency and provide enough resources to manage, what they created. After all, they represent Microsoft.

PS. The other interesting fact I've learned is that the more stupid your app is, the more downloads you'll get :D

PS2. All my apps created for that competition are available on my Marketplace site. Guess which one is the most popular?

No comments: