Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Windows Mobile has a legitimate shot at market share

Windows Mobile has been in the news recently as Microsoft gears to launch a new revision of the OS and new devices. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-10/microsoft-windows-phones-will-get-more-marketing-dollars-sales-incentives.html, others). I used a Windows Phone 7 for a while and loved it except that it was missing many key apps I like to use. It’s going to be tough for Microsoft to grab market share – they will need slick devices with great features, but most importantly they are going to need very good apps, the apps that consumers want, such as Pandora, Meebo, Spotify, and Angry Birds.

This is going to be a long uphill battle. Even if an app is available on the Windows Phone, will it be as good as the versions on other platforms? The Geocaching app on the Windows phone does not have as many features as the one on the iPhone. But will consumers know that there are differences among the same apps on different platforms? For Microsoft’s sake, let’s hope that consumers do notice!

It is this very issue that may be to Microsoft’s long term advantage. From what I have seen, development on the Windows Phone is easy. Easy development is the key. I just met with a friend at small hip company that has an iPhone app and an Android app for their platform. He is the sole iPhone app developer, but they have a team of 4 Android developers that can hardly keep up with the iPhone app’s features while constantly testing and configuring for a plethora of Android platforms and versions. That’s 4 Android developers to 1 iPhone developer – and the Android team cannot not even keep up on features. That’s a big cost – and in the long run, a cost that companies will need to find a way to reduce. The Android versions of apps will not be as good as their iPhone counterparts – but Windows Phone versions should be less expensive to develop and maintain than the Android versions. This is a promising thing for Microsoft if they can get everything else right. I don’t think Windows Mobile will be the market leader next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had 25%+ in three years – and the ease of writing and supporting apps is paramount.