Well folks, Windows 10 phone is here. Sort of. Microsoft has been seen trying to push its platform by releasing a comparison app (called AppComparison funnily enough) on the Google Play store so that Android users who are considering an upgrade or pondering a platform switch can see whether their favourite apps are available for Windows and if they’re not get a recommended alternative.
Apps have long been an issue for the Windows Phone platform. Years on and still no Instagram for instance and the list does not stop there. But this is an attempt by Microsoft to say ‘hold on a sec, we might not have that but you can still do that’. In theory this is sound but, judging by the poor reviews on the app’s Google Play Store profile so far, it is a theory that hasn’t quite worked out for Microsoft.
You cannot knock ‘em for trying as they say, it just seems like Microsoft are the perennial third wheel in this party and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
OS Good, Apps Bad
App Developers in London and the world over will tell you that designing apps for three platforms is a tough ask. Especially when one of the platforms is lagging so far behind the other two available platforms and, in fact, when resources are low some companies and developers are forced to choose just one platform to operate in and that platform is probably never going to be Windows Phone.
Just as in politics, backing the third horse in a two-horse race is often just for the loyalists or people with a point to prove or maybe some people really really don’t like Android of iPhone. That is not to slam Windows Phones per se and it is probably healthy to have a third party with the clout of Microsoft in the market, it’s just that no matter how much money they try and throw at it there appears to be no real breakthrough in terms of market reach.
The Windows OS is actually good, very good in fact with live tiles and Cortana and Bing and Here maps all integrated well into the system. It is the apps where it fails and fails miserably. Microsoft is in something of a Catch 22 situation here. They need apps, customers who would potentially use the platform need apps, but in order to have customers you need apps and in order to have apps willing to port across to the platform you need customers.
A conundrum if ever there was one.
Comparison, what comparison?
As we said, the idea behind AppComparison was a sound one. Users can download the app for Android and see if apps that they use are available and see alternatives. But the issue is the lack of alternatives. There are just so many apps missing from the Windows portfolio that it seems unlikely this ‘app gap’ will never be breached. And it is not necessarily a question of quantity, Apple will most likely always dominate here and that’s okay because you don’t need quantity, but you do need a selection of apps that will do the job.
Microsoft may well see it as a wiser move to invest in app infrastructure for Windows 10 rather than hope third parties will help out. They might not win swathes of Android defectors that way but they’ll win some who are enticed by the platform and the suite of Windows software such as Office built in.
There is still time for Microsoft for turn Windows Phone around into an effective third player but they may just have to admit that they’ll never be top dogs again.