Since switching back to Windows Phone last week I must say I am happy I did. Do I miss my Android? Well I would be lying if I said I did not. To be frank, Windows Phone has a superior, cleaner and faster UI (user interface) then Android. This means when I need to use my phone quickly the Windows Phone far our performs any Android phone I have tried. However there is a huge hurdle Microsoft must conquer if they want to truly compete in the U.S. market.
Me and my Windows Phone. Friends Forever?
Apps sell phones, and Windows Phone continues to lag behind both iOS and Android in app availability. There are more apps available today that is for sure then when I first used a Windows Phone (October 2012 – October 2013) but there is much more work to do.
If you look at raw numbers, Windows Phone still seriously lags behind its competitors. There are an estimated 1.2 million apps available for iOS, and more than 1.3 million for Android. As for Windows Phone apps, the total numbers it reported in April 2014 was 400,000. However Microsoft combines their Windows tablet and phone stores with these numbers so lets just agree that there are far less apps available on Windows phone then iOS and Android. And to make matters worse it has been reported widely recently and I have seen this myself that there is a lot of “JUNK” apps in the Windows Store.
To be clear, apps are the Achilles heal for Microsoft’s otherwise excellent smartphone.
Even for me, an admitted Microsoft fan the app situation is very bad and disappointing. The frustrating thing here is that this problem would be meaningless if Microsoft’s smartphone was not worthy, but it truly is.
If you had a Windows phone for a week and judged it on performance, ease of use and customization I am confident most users would consider using Windows Phone. However the mobile world we live in is an “app world” and Microsoft needs to address this issue if they ever want to capture meaningful market share.
Last month, WP Central did an analysis of apps available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and the results were not good for Windows Phone. WP Central used information from App Annie. It found that none of the 13 most popular free games available for iOS were available for Windows Phone. And of the 12 most popular free apps on iOS, it found, a mere six were available for Windows Phone. Overall, among the apps it found missing were WatchESPN, FIFA Official App, YouTube, Snapchat, and Google Maps.
Today there is an acceptable YouTube app published by Microsoft. Google Maps as well as other Google apps are being withheld by Google so Microsoft is really a victim with these, especially considering that Microsoft has made Microsoft Office apps specifically for both Android and iOS.
All is not lost however. The Microsoft Store is not a wasteland with app tumbleweeds rolling by. For example social media apps are abundant on Windows Phone like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Swarm and even Google+. However Apps that I particularly miss include, WatchESPN, Directv’s Sunday Ticket, SiriusXM and my local bank.
Windows Phone does come packaged with a full version of Internet Explorer therefore you can access any of these services through their webpage. This can be tedious and users are not accustomed to putting that much effort into the services they want to use, on their smartphone.
On the plus side, if you are a Microsoft 365 user Windows Phone will shine.
My Windows Phone journey continues…