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Windows Phone: 70k available apps, but are they enough to take on Android, iOS?

March 26, 2012

Although the features, the UI, and the general experience matter a lot when it comes to choosing the “right” smartphone operating system, for many people the choice boils down to the number and quality of apps available for each OS. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 has recently surpassed RIM’s BlackBerry store when it comes to the total number of available apps, although the comparison with RIM’s Blackberry OS (with its major downfall over the past few years) is not something to make WP7 users particularly proud. Although the number of apps available for Windows Phone 7 recently went north of 70k, that’s no match for roughly the half of million apps available for both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

Although immensely popular apps (such as Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, etc) are also available for WP7, there are a lot of important apps that have not reached Microsoft’s mobile OS yet. Although the lack of apps used to be a problem for Android too, in its early years, it looks like the world’s most popular smartphone OS — Android — now accounts for a market share that most developers don’t afford to neglect.

A good example on the topic is Instagram’s recent decision to release the Android version of their popular image sharing app, but this can be seen as a prevalent trend lately, with some developers even going to extensive lengths to provide parity across Android and iOS.

Although it was expected that the Microsoft – Nokia partnership will result in a share boost for WP7, the results have been, up to this point, modest. To put it simply, in its current state, WP7 does not attract too many niche app developers. This is perfectly reflected in a recent IDC/Appcelerator survey, which showed that only 37% of app developers were interested to build software for Windows Phone 7, compared to the 89% interest in iOS and 79% interest in Android. As it turns out, this is an issue of which both Microsoft and Nokia seem to be completely aware, as the two companies have recently announced an investment in an $18 million development program at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland (Nokia’s home country).

In the other corner, Windows Phone 7 (.5?) fans prefer to emphasize the platform’s growth over its mere 16 months of existence, rather than the raw numbers. Granted, it took the Android Market (now Google Play) 24 months from its launch to reach a total of 80k apps, but the apparent disparity has a lot to do with the simple fact that there are many more mobile app developers out there at this point, than there were a couple of years ago.

What do you guys think? Will Windows Phone boost its market share over the next years? Are Android and iOS unbeatable? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!