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Windows Phone: There’s a Market for That. Isn’t There?

Posted on July 26, 2012 AT 10:01am

A couple months ago, I purchased an HTC Radar 4G and was introduced to the world of Windows Phone OS. Since then, I’ve had a number of interesting conversations regarding the OS. Those who use it seem to love it; those who don’t use it seem to think that Microsoft is out to steal their soul. It’s almost as if they’re thinking ‘How dare they invade my choices of phone operating systems!’ There are very few people I’ve met that are ‘on the fence’ about WP. As interesting as examining and discussing said fence may be, that isn’t what we’re here for today.

One of the major reasons for the divide [from what I have seen] can–or, technically, can’t–be found in the marketplace. I’ve spoken to a number of developers and users alike about this.

I ask the users: “Why aren’t you interested in Windows Phone?”

The answer is often the same [not counting the 'ERMAHGERD, MICROSOFT ON MY PHONE? NEVAAAAR!' folks]: “There aren’t enough apps/games.” or “The apps I want to use aren’t on there.”

I ask the devs: “Why don’t you make apps for Windows Phone?”

The answer is, again, often the same: “There isn’t a market for it.”

To have a market, there need to be users. For users to be interested, there need to be devs making applications [I know that the features of the OS itself need to be worth writing home about as well, but that is another topic for another day]. I’m distinctly reminded of the whole ‘you need credit to get credit’ issue. Nevertheless, in any near paradoxical issue such as this, there’s always an answer. It’s hard to expect the users to get excited about a platform, knowing that their favorite applications won’t be available. Don’t get me wrong, WP is chock full of amazing features. Though, these days, ‘having lots of features’ isn’t enough for most users. People want a near endless selection of both useful and time wasting programs to download at their heart’s content.

Having endless selections isn’t the answer for any marketplace, be it digital or physical. What is required is quality content. There are a few really great apps on the Windows Marketplace, but even as a user of the platform, I certainly understand how someone might hesitate to make the leap. The iOS and Android markets both do, indeed, have huge amount of content. However, given enough time browsing either of them, you can see that the majority is absolute chaff. The WP market is already starting to suffer from the presence of these low quality and hastily programmed shovelware me-toos. While I’m eager to see more show up in the marketplace, I’d hate to see a third coming of crapware.

The Windows Marketplace is still young, and still growing. What would be great is if more devs would step up and make some great, must have applications. Also, it would also be excellent to see the devs who have already jumped ship [yes, there are a few, and I'm going to name some names] come back. I’m not sure why they left, yet some of them even went so far as to make WP ‘exclusive’ apps, which have since been left, essentially, to rot.

The best example I can think of is the TBS/TNT Falling Skies app. It had character and actor bios, links to the online comics, and a bundle of other features. Note that I say ‘had’. Since its release, support for it has been dropped, and you can only download it if you’re lucky enough to find the original download link; it can’t be searched for in the marketplace. Just recently, TBS/TNT released a trio of Falling Skies apps on iOS and Android: Falling Skies Sync, the Falling Skies Experience, and 2nd Mass Defense. For some reason, Turner has bailed on making these apps for Windows Phone as well. They apparently thought there was enough of a following to make an exclusive app in the first place, so something must have spooked them.

Netflix, Flixster, Amazon, eBay, Slacker, Fandango, Foursquare, IMDb, Skype, and a goodly number of other big name apps have found their way over. Where are the other big guys? Google, why is the official YouTube app made by Microsoft, not you? And no Flash support, Adobe? You did it for Android, why not WP?

It would help hoist up the desirability of Windows Phone as a platform, marketplace-wise, if the other big players would treat it seriously. It would be lovely if the users would do the same. If the brands that people consume start giving WP some love, I believe the users will follow. This is not to say that people wouldn’t enjoy seeing more indie devs making kickass applications, because I would love, love, love that. No matter the source, be the developers big or small, we need to see some major movements in terms of volume and quality of digital content.

The developers of the applications and games aren’t the only ones who need to support Windows Phone, though. The responsibility also falls upon the companies who create the game engines. Unity, Unreal Engine, Torque 3D, Hero, and the list goes on. I know there have been some issues with Microsoft’s willingness to open the platform to the companies, so I hope that MS quickly realizes they’re only hurting themselves. Even Apple, the original champion of walled castle level OS privacy, opened up enough to allow some pretty great engines to be created.

It’s also worth mentioning that Apple brought the App Store to us only four short years ago. In that brief time, there have been over seven hundred thousand apps released, and twenty-five billion downloads have been completed. Those numbers are nothing to scoff at, and it proves a point: Those who say ‘there isn’t a market’ or ‘there aren’t enough apps’ were likely saying the same thing about the iPhone in 2008. A lot changes at a very rapid pace in the digital age in which we live.

So, this is your call to arms, developers! Help make the Windows Marketplace mighty! I know you can do it, because I’ve seen two other grand digital stores come to life due to your efforts! Let’s do this!

One last note, dear programming friends: We already have enough fart machines on iOS and Android, so perhaps that isn’t the direction we need to go?

Readers: Share your thoughts! What do you think about the Windows Phone Marketplace? Heck, what do you think of Windows Phone as a whole? Are there any other tech trouble or gaming gripes that you’d like to see me touch upon? [Bad touches not included. You and me, baby, may be mammals, but we're talkin' tech here.]  Do you want to unleash your tiny fury, but would rather have someone else do it for you? Let me know below!

Bryan Todd [aka DieselBT] -- This is where I'm supposed to say something clever about myself. Let's pretend I did, and it conveniently mentions all of my top interests, such as anime, video games, crazy gadgets, electronic music, voice acting, sound editing, and countless other ridiculously fascinating topics. I also like to write stuff about things, which is why I'm here.

...That, and I like your shirt.

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