Battle of the Apps
Microsoft has poured a lot into the launch of Windows Phone 7. As of right now, the WP7 Marketplace includes nearly 2,000 apps and games. There are 13,000 registered developers for the platform, all of whom may now submit apps to Microsoft.
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Two thousand may not sound impressive now, in the days of the 300,000+ application App Store catalog. But let's look back in time a bit. When the iPhone's App Store first launched it had just five hundred or so apps. The Android Market launched with a piddling 13 apps. Compared to that, Windows Phone 7's Marketplace is doing pretty damn well.
Of course, Apple had the advantage of being the first and Google had the advantage of being open-source and the only viable iPhone competitor on the horizon. Microsoft needed a decent assortment of apps at launch to even have a chance at competing. Now their focus must be on expanding those offerings as quickly as possible. Hence, 13,000 developers.
There are currently nearly sixty thousand different iOS app publishers, and over 270,000 developers writing Android software. 13,000 devs is a nice number to start with, but WP7 needs to drag a lot more people into their corner. And they need to do it fast.
Developers can be a skittish lot. Google's good name and the rapid improvement of Android is all that kept interest in the App Market alive in those bad, early days. Microsoft isn't nearly as trusted in the mobile sector, and the jettisoning of the Kin has to be a little worrying to a developer.
That said, a full 20% of app publishers plan to support Windows Phone 7 in 2011. That is equal with the iPad and just 9% under Android.
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I think the first six months are going to be crucial for WP7. If they can move devices, deliver regular updates like copy and paste (due out in a few weeks) and deliver a profitable market to developers, Microsoft has a chance. They've done almost everything right so far. Now we just need to wait and see if the customers bite.