The Windows Phone app marketplace story is really amazing. Less than a year since the 1’st phones launched and there are currently around 17,000 apps available. That’s more than BlackBerry or WebOs. Half as many as Nokias’ now defunct Ovi store .
Its climbing at a faster rate than androids or apples app stores did at launch. Developers generally like the tools available to make apps for wp7 devices. Microsoft recently made it even easier for porting iOS apps to windows phone 7.
But some developers of popular apps are still dragging their collective feet on developing for windows phone 7. We all know the “rule” of developing an application for any platform. “Its not worth developing an app for a platform that doesn’t have a big enough market presence”.
Which leads to the old paradox: if a platform doesn’t have a large enough user base, there most likely won’t be a lot of apps. But if there aren’t a lot of apps, then users will ignore it”. That’s a hell of a double edged sword.
This formula leaves smaller independent developers to build up the marketplace. Whether their apps are hit or miss in regard to their intentions, I personally applaud these developers. Because they took a risk & put in the time to code an app for a platform that larger, popular developers for 1 reason or another have chosen to ignore.
But once the platform grows, the devs that ignored the platform, swoops in & if their popular enough, they pull away users from the smaller developer that put in the time to build the platforms marketplace.
However that double edged sword I talked about earlier, has a dagger at the end of it. Developers that wait to develop for a platform until its popular enough better not think they can Christian Slater their way into a marketplace. Because the devs who wait can end up submitting their app and not getting any downloads.
When a platform has to wait for an app to bring a feature to the platform that leaves the platform to become the killer app. Pandora was supposedly going to be available on windows phone 7. But for 1 reason or another they backed out & there’s still no Pandora app available. You can’t even access the service from their mobile site on the phone.
Their data tracking & other woes aside come mango, they won’t really be necessary come the mango update which will bring zunes smart DJ to the mobile platform. A streaming music service where there are few limits to what I can listen to that plays music based on a seed song. And its baked into the phone. Why is Pandora even relevant if you have a windows phone and a Zune account?
There’s still not an official dropbox app for windows phone 7. A few apps that can access it and do some of the same things the official dropbox app. But pretty soon SkyDrive will be baked into windows phone 7. For those of you not in the know, dropbox gives you 2 GB of free space. Refer people and get a little more. You can subscribe and get 100 or 200 GB.
SkyDrive gives you 25 GB right of the bat for free. That’s a lot of free space for pictures, documents and some video. Zune is a music streaming service so storing music isn’t necessary. For these app developers, their products have to be really compelling for a user to pick them over what’s already built into their phones.
As a Zune user, I only use Pandora out of curiosity. I have smart DJ built into my desktop app, in my Zune hd and soon in my windows phone. I rarely use dropbox. I have SkyDrive & office 365. Both will be built into my phone this fall. I can already tell you that even with a Facebook app on my phone, I rarely use it. Facebook is built into my phone. The only time I use the app is when I have to send a message.
The point of windows phone is that I don’t have to dig for an app & then dig into that app to do what I want. By the time apps like Pandora & dropbox make it to windows phone 7, they’ll be counting on users that barely know how to use their phone. Most developers build an app in the hopes that the platforms maker will buy them to build it into the platform. Sad to break it to you, but very few of you are Skype.
If windows phone already has it baked in then I suggest you don’t have bother wasting the time to code an app unless your bringing something to the table Microsoft didn’t think of or can’t do better baked in that you can do tacked on. You waited & now you have to work way harder to get attention or you’ve lost a platform to develop on.
That cuts a lot of developers off the windows phone roster. Which won’t hurt Microsoft if they made the phone so feature rich that the comparable app is simply not needed by the users.
Which leads to the other problem for developers. This one is a little personal for me. As a nerd, there’s little that disappoints me with windows phone. As a gay man, I and many other gay users on windows phone are left in the cold. There are very few dating apps in windows phones marketplace. There are no gay centric apps AT ALL. Windows phone as far as gay apps go is the digital equivalent of Fort Madison IA.
I’ve written and asked dating services & app devs if they plan on making an app soon. Certain services replied that WP7 is not on their horizon just yet. Then they refered me to their mobile site which has no location abilities. That’s a lot more than the app only location based dating services who replied, “no! If Windows Phone 7 gets bigger they will make an app for it. Their focused on iOS & Android right now”. Some have been a little more optimistic than that saying that if windows phone is available on more hardware or if it has a steady rate of growth, they will.
I will say this much. The 1’st location based dating app that appears in the marketplace, be it BoyAhoy, Zoosk, Grindr, Bender, Connexion, encountr or O.K Cupid. As far as I’m concerned will be the only app worth downloading. There is such a thing as brand loyalty. If app X is pretty good and is the only 1 available. The next app like it afterwards had better be pretty damn compelling. Because it means that I have to walk away from something I know & has a large user base of people already on it.
How many Facebook wanna bes’ have their been? Facebook had to really compelling to beat MySpace. It didn’t hurt that MySpace failed in epic proportions. To be the killer app, sometimes all you have to do is be the 1’st. After that, you really need to be pretty damn good. Speaking personally, the 1’st app that is a location based dating service that caters to the GLBT community will have my loyalty.
So there you have it developers. Yes windows phones market share is small in comparison to iOS and Android. But the user base is growing. The o.s is quickly becoming its own killer app. More O.E.Ms’ are coming on board. Asus & Nokia phones are coming this year. Some Chinese handset makers are building wp7 devices that will hit the market soon.
Analyst are predicting windows phone to take 2’nd or 1’st place in 5 years depending on who you ask. The tools for coding for windows phone are easy to use. I’m learning how to make my 1’st app. Its not as hard as I thought making a mobile app would be.
Is making an app for a smaller platform a lot of energy & resources. Yes it is. But its probably a lot more work to have to make your app better that either the built in features of the platform or to take users from a similar app in order to make some traction. I’m guessing, just as much work to get more users on the platform your currently on to make up for a platform you can’t compete on because you waited to long.
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