Last week, open source HTML5 framework provider Nitobi and Microsoft announced that PhoneGap is ready for use with Windows Phone Mango. That means that Windows Phone developers can now add Web app functionality into native Mango applications in the same way that they can with iOS and Android. The question remains: Is Windows Phone ever going to be a viable consumer option?

PhoneGap has come charging into the mobile development ecosystem in the last several months. Nitobi's star is hitched to the rise of HTML5 and functional APIs. Yet, Microsoft working with PhoneGap is perhaps further validation of the framework than PhoneGap is a validation of Windows Phone as a legitimate platform.

Wanted: Eyeballs for Windows Phone 7 Mango

Windows Phone Mango is doing some very interesting things. Microsoft has a cadre of internal developers cooking up features on a weekly basis and has fostered its external developer culture to the point where the Windows Marketplace for Mobile has a variety of unique applications.

Yet, the long-term future of Microsoft and Windows Phone developer relations hinges on one very important aspect - eyeballs. If there are no users actually purchasing Windows Phones that means the Windows Marketplace might as well be a ghost land. In July, Windows Phone hardly registered on the market share rankings, even below Samsung's second-tier mobile operating system Bada.

This may change with the coming holiday season. AT&T announced today that it has three new Windows Phone Mango devices (one from HTC and two from Samsung) to be released this falls and the initial Windows Phone from Nokia will probably drop before the holiday season ramps up (at least you would expect it to). Microsoft will undoubtedly have a huge marketing push this fall as well. It is not outside the realm of possibility of Microsoft tripling its Windows Phone sales in the next coming months.

Can PhoneGap Increase WP7 Developer Interest?

This is where developers like PhoneGap come in. The open source project will allow developers to easily turn their Web apps into Windows Phone apps. Since Mango uses most of Microsoft's own programming languages (for Silverlight, C# etc.), this should be of great help. The new Internet Explorer 9 functionality in Mango makes PhoneGap's HTML5 framework possible.

According to a blog post by Nitobi's Jesse Macfadyen, these are the APIs that PhoneGap has set up for WP7.

  • Acceleormeter
  • Camera
  • Compass
  • Contacts
  • Events
  • Geolocation
  • MediaCapture
  • Connection
  • Notification

Those are pretty much the primary APIs that developers will be looking to use. Macfadyen does note that file and storage are still to come. Packaging of WP7 apps are different than other Webkit-based apps because of the differences inherent in IE9.

Developers: Are you looking to create Windows Phone apps outside of the normal workload you carry with iOS and Android? Will it be worth it? Does PhoneGap packaging functionality make the work any less cumbersome? Let us know in the comments.