Microsoft breaks 300,000 apps in the Windows Phone Store, but does it matter?

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear news about the Windows Phone?

Maybe you get excited because you’re an ardent Windows Phone user and you love everything about it.  Or perhaps, you’re a dogmatic iPhone fan and haven’t sailed the enigmatic seas of Windows Phone apps.  In either case, the Windows Phone is a force in the smartphone world and it’s striving to become a salient option for ambivalent phone buyers – but I have to ask: is it enough?  And is the Windows Phone Store a compelling reason to buy a Windows Phone over an iPhone?

According to Microsoft, the Windows Phone is becoming a salient player in the smartphone marketplace.  In fact, according to a recent Microsoft whitepaper released yesterday:

  • The Windows Phone Store has serviced over a whopping 4 billion downloads
  • The store surmounted 300,000 apps and games
  • Hundreds of apps are being added daily.

Sounds like a propitious time to be Microsoft right?

If you click on over to the Microsoft statistic site, bythenumbers, you’ll see what I mean.

Windows Phone Store has over 300,000 apps now

But just how popular is the Windows Phone?

Well, according to a May 2014 market share report from comScore MobiLens, Microsoft’s smartphone platform had only a 3.4 % hold on smartphone subscribers.

Sounds paltry to me.  Especially when you compare that single digit figure to the prodigious 52.1% and 41.9% numbers boasted by Android and Apple respectively.

But you probably already knew that Android and Apple are at the vanguard of the smartphone wave.  So what does this mean for Microsoft?

On the one hand, 300,000 apps is a significant achievement.  You may remember that back in June of 2012, the Windows Phone marketplace barely breached the 100,000 mark.  But the Windows Phone marketplace was off to a fast start.  According to statistics from AAWP, the Windows Phone reached the 100,000 marker faster than Android.

So let’s fast forward 2 years to today:

A Microsoft spokesperson told TheNextWeb that the app catalog is growing at a healthy pace.

In the past year alone the Windows and Windows Phone app catalog has grown 94%, while the number of active developers has grown by 50%

This is certainly an auspicious sign.  Microsoft’s app trajectory seems to be focused on the right target but there’s still a small, dubious, voice in the back of my mind wondering if this is enough?

It might be.

The last I checked, Microsoft seems to offer better incentives to developers than Google.  For example, according to Microsoft developer and evangelist Jennifer Marsman, both Google Play and the Windows Store reward developers with a 70% revenue slice of profits; however, if your App hits $25,000 only Microsoft bumps your share to 80%.

Little things like this could provide the catalyst Microsoft needs to pump out higher quality apps.  The way I see it, higher quality apps begets an improved user experience and an improved user experience begets greater market share.

I’m convicted that the pith of Microsoft’s Windows Phone success is contingent on the quality of apps they can release. You can major in faddish games such as Kim Kardashian Hollywood or Candy Crush Saga or you can give people the most stable, fluid experiences with  everyday apps that never go out of style.  Think about the Youtube and Skydrive apps on the Windows Phone.  According to app statistics firm AppAnnie, these apps are a perennial favorite for Windows Phone users.

If Microsoft keeps giving people what they want it’ll position itself to be a market leader in the app space.

The Bottom Line.

I think Microsoft has come a long with the Windows Phone Store but it still has a long way to go. Rhapsodizing about 300,000 apps is definitely an estimable feat; however, if Microsoft wants to become a true contender in the App race it needs to focus on quality and designing apps that surpass the fleeting app mania that captivates users.

So I’ve shared my thoughts about the Windows Phone Store but now I put the ball in your court.  What do you think of the Windows Phone Store?  Are you happy with the app selection and quality there?  Where do you see the Windows Phone Store in 3 years?  Let me know! – I’m curious what you’re thinking.

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