Windows Phone Marketplace reporting changes: will we see some actual usage numbers soon?

A post today on the Windows Phone blog makes a couple of announcements: first, that developers will now be paid their first installment in the 4th week of January, instead of sometime in February as initially announced:

We are pleased to now announce that the first payouts for Windows Phone 7 sales will be made in the 4th week of January 2011. This payout will include payment for all sales of Windows Phone 7 apps and games that occurred after the phones became available in October 2010 through the end of December 2010. After January 2011, developer payouts will be processed on a monthly basis for all combined sales of Windows Phone 6.x and Windows Phone 7 apps for those developers who meet the minimum payout threshold limits.

The post goes on to report that analytics for developers for their apps now deployed on Windows Phone Marketplace are now available, beginning today.  Developers will be able to check “daily and cumulative downloads as well as raw data break-downs “, as well as payout information, including info for any Windows Mobile 6.xx apps.

The post then goes on to highlight some refinements to the Marketplace app submission process, and to tout some turnaround numbers for the 18,000 developers who are registered to develop apps for Windows Phone 7:

One way we measure improvement is to look at is turnaround time for common activities. I wanted to share that we have made significant improvements. Over the last month, 91% of applications have been certified and published within 2 days of submission, and 86% of the 1,000+ new developers that register in App Hub every week now have their account vetted and validated within 10 days.

Here are a few examples of some of the other fixes and enhancements that we have made recently thanks to specific developer feedback.

  • Developers from certain countries were reporting issues with postal code rules that were not applicable to their locale.  We re-structured these rules to accommodate developers from these regions and they are now able to register successfully.
  • When re-submitting an application, the steps were unclear to many developers and resulted in the erroneous impression that the submission process was completed, when it was not.  We changed the workflow and improved the App Hub UI with a concise 5 step process.

We’ve also made several other smaller enhancements that improve the robustness, performance and usability as well.

Much has been made recently of Microsoft’s unwillingness to discuss Windows Phone 7 sales numbers, and these app sales figures, if developers choose to release them, may give us our only real clues as to how Windows Phone is doing in the marketplace in these very early first few days and weeks.