Windows Phone Marketplace expands to developers in China and India, plus other changes

One week ago Microsoft officially launched Windows Phone 7.5 in India, bringing three devices – the HTC Radar, Samsung Omnia W, and Acer Allegro to the market by the end of November. Together with the launch, Microsoft also announced the expansion of the Windows Phone Marketplace to India. According to the official blog post:

We’re pleased to announce that as of today Windows Phone customers in India are now able to purchase your apps and games via Windows Phone Marketplace!

China-Marketplace_thumb Mobile

At the same time, Microsoft also announced that developers in China can now also register via App Hub and begin submitting apps to the Windows Phone Marketplace. However, curiously the Windows Phone Marketplace is not yet available to customers in China, given that Windows Phone has not yet officially launched in the country. It is expected that Nokia will be bringing a TD-SCDMA (China’s 3G network standard) version of their Windows Phone to China Mobile sometime in the near future.

In addition, Microsoft also announced two other changes to the way apps can be published to the Windows Phone Marketplace. Firstly, Microsoft has made the change such that developers can now maintain their Windows Phone 7.0 apps and the 7.5 “Mango” apps at the same time. According to the blog post:

Effective today, developers who have updated their Windows Phone 7.0 applications to Windows Phone 7.5 (OS 7.1, aka Mango) have new options for how they manage updates for both apps. The 7.0 and 7.5 versions of an application share the same catalog details, pricing (including trial and geographic distribution options), ratings & reviews and hidden/live property if in a published state. However, each version of the application can now be updated, unpublished and re-published independently. You can view both versions of the application on the lifecycle tab in App Hub.

It is important to note that there can only be one in-progress update at any time across both versions of an app. The update in progress must be published to Marketplace before another version of the app can be updated. Also, catalog details and pricing changes made as part of a 7.0 app update will affect the 7.5 version of the app and vice versa. Finally, be aware that if you publish a new 7.5 app there is no way to later add a 7.0 version.

Further, there is also a slight change in the way Windows Phone Marketplace handles search keywords. From today, the search functionality across Marketplace will now use only the first five keywords, and all subsequent keywords entered by the developer will be ignored. Developers with existing apps published are encouraged to review the keywords for their apps to ensure that it is still relevant.

It is great to see Microsoft tapping into the mass markets such as China and India. However, with a majority of their online services – such as Zune, Xbox LIVE, and many parts of Bing – not made available in these markets, will Windows Phone succeed even with the Nokia brand around them? Interestingly enough, Microsoft is actually tapping into WPXAP.com, an unofficial Chinese Windows Phone forum, to obtain feedback directly from users on how to improve the localisation of Windows Phone in the Chinese market. Let’s hope something good comes out of this!

(Thanks Picturepan2 from LiveSino.net for the heads up!)