Distimo shows that the Windows Phone Marketplace has downloads of 101,000 free applications per day and 20,000 paid applications. The Windows 7 Marketplace is 39 times smaller than the Apple App Store volume.A little more than a year after Windows Phone 7 was launched to the world, the ecosystem is seeing some strong growth from Windows Phone Marketplace. According to a new report by
The App Store is about 12.5 times larger than the Windows Phone Marketplace (500,000 apps to 40,000). The iOS user base is mammoth in in comparison to WP7, with northwards of 200 million devices sold against the abysmal numbers for Windows Phone (2 million devices shipped into the channel in Q3 2011). The Nokia Lumia might help WP7 along globally but the Marketplace has almost reached a point where it can support a vibrant user base in the same way as iOS and Android.
An analyst from Pacific Crest, James Faucette, cut his prediction for Windows Phones sold this quarter from 2 million to 500,000 with a note that the Nokia Lumia had "no clear advantage over other manufacturers' devices that would allow them to compete," according to the New York Times.
This is both at once true and not true. We have been testing a European build Nokia Lumia 800 (which had to be returned for a firmware upgrade but is back now). The hardware on the Lumia is impressive and easy to fall in love with. It feels a little heavier than your standard smartphone at first, but it is solid in the way that many Android smartphones, BlackBerries or iPhones or even Windows Phones from Samsung and HTC are not.
At the same time, the problem with Windows Phone is that, by design, there is nothing really different between a Samsung version or an HTC version. Nokia has the best hardware of the bunch, but the UI is no different.
Speaking with developers at Nokia World, the general consensus was that Windows Phone is an easy platform to develop for. Microsoft provides a plethora of tools and the integrated developer environments are easier to work with. The drawback to developing for Windows Phone is that it is difficult to use code from iOS and Android in creating an app for Windows Phone. Distimo reports that the Marketplace is adding 700 new publishers per month putting up 1300 paid applications and 1650 free applications month-over-month.
Games are the most popular apps in the Marketplace, with tools & productivity, entertainment and travel/navigation the other top categories. The Marketplace is currently available in 35 countries with a lot of localized traction coming from South Africa (in games) and Japan, according to Distimo.
IDC analyst Al Hilwa said in a recent note on the Marketplace, "So far I am pleased with the application portfolio which I believe has already reached critical mass."
In testing the Windows Phone with the Nokia Lumia, there probably is a critical mass of apps in the Marketplace, but it still leaves much to be desired. Some go-to apps, such as Qik, Pandora or any third party browsers are missing. If you are an iOS or Android consumer that is used to having any and all functionality you can think of in the App Store or Android Market, you will eventually find yourself disappointed.
There are two aspects of Windows Phone that are fundamentally at odds. First, the Marketplace is becoming a destination that will have most (but not all) of the applications that users desire. That does not mean that Windows Phone will capture users' hearts and minds though, as Faucette points out. What it may eventually come down to is the huge eventual push into the United States by Nokia, Microsoft through partnerships with U.S. carriers.