Apps is the latest business application used to reach out to customer markets. And despite Microsoft and Nokia wanting to do the same like Apple, the challenge is big to try to match much less exceed 500,000 apps already available from an iPhone. But they can always try.
From BusinessWorld Philippines
Windows Phone struggles to break catch-22 in apps market
APPS, apps, apps! That is the main challenge that Microsoft and Nokia, who are trying to claw back market share from Apple, Inc.’s iPhone and Google’s Android in the red-hot smartphone market, face now.
And so far the going does not look too good for the challengers and their warhorse Windows Phone platform.
Apps, short for applications, are small pieces of software that do useful or fun things on cellphones. The huge number and variety of apps in Apple and Google stores are a key factor that has helped the companies emerge as dominant players in the lucrative smartphone market.
On Monday, Microsoft and Nokia said they would invest a total of $23.9 million into a new mobile application development program, AppCampus, at Helsinki’s Aalto University during the next three years.
The move underscores the seriousness with which the two companies view the problem. They hope the program, which will provide support, coaching and also funding for app makers, will boost the number of unique and outstanding apps on Windows Phone.
The number of apps available in the Windows Phone Marketplace now exceeds 65,000, surpassing those at another rival Research in Motion’s BlackBerry store. But that is still far short of around half a million apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, according to app researcher Distimo.
“Mobile developers’ interest for the Windows platform has been for the least very lukewarm over the last two years, with no sign of improvement,” Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu said.
Finn Christian Lindholm, a Helsinki-based partner at digital design agency Fjord, believes the latest Windows Phones are interesting enough to challenge the iPhone.
The key to both companies’ strategy to gain in the smartphone market would be how they break out of the vicious cycle — the low sales of the Windows phones holding back app makers, and consumers shunning the phones for lack of the apps they are accustomed to.
“They need to break the catch-22 before there is enough volume and natural pull,” Mr. Lindholm said.
NO TALKING TOM CAT
Showing how difficult a task that Microsoft and Nokia face, many small app developers, such as Outfit7 — maker of the popular Talking Tom Cat app — and Joby — which makes a camera app — said they have no plans to be on Windows Phone either.
For many small developers, it is a question of cost and how fast they can recoup the investment.
It would probably take six man-months to build an app for Windows phone and if that was contract work it would be $60,000 or more, said Adam Saltsman, co-founder of Semi Secret Software, which makes the Wurdle word game.
The small customer base for Windows Phone is forcing developers to charge more for the apps, turning off customers further. Most apps that are available for 99 cents on Google Play cost $2.99 on the Windows’ Marketplace.
Jeffrey Glueck, chief executive of Skyfire Labs, Inc., maker of Skyfire Web browser, said the main driver for developing on Windows Phone will be carrier requests. “So far, we’re only getting requests around Android and iPhone.”
That is one more challenge for Microsoft and Nokia. — Reuters