Photo: Business Insider / Matthew Lynley
Microsoft launched its Windows Phone 7 OS to the public in the fall of 2010.About a year and a half later, Microsoft is still having trouble getting people to adopt its platform.
The company hopes to solve that, in part, with the slick-looking Nokia Lumia 900.
But next to the hardware and operating system, the feature that matters most to smartphone owners is app selection. And it’s no secret that Microsoft is having a tough time getting developers to make killer apps for Windows Phones.
It’s the old chicken-and-the-egg problem. Developers don’t want to spend resources making an app for a platform that only has a tiny slice of the smartphone market. But potential new smartphone owners don’t want to buy a phone that doesn’t have the latest and greatest apps.
That’s quite a pickle for Microsoft.
So what is Microsoft doing to fix it?
The smartest thing it can: invest more money in apps and app developers. According to the New York Times, Microsoft has already bankrolled the development of major apps like Foursquare. (If it didn’t, Foursquare says it wouldn’t even consider wasting time on a Windows Phone app.) Microsoft even went ahead and made its own Facebook app instead of waiting for Facebook to do it.
As has been widely reported before, Microsoft is also giving out free phones and other incentives to developers to get them on board.
It’s sort of working. The Windows Phone Marketplace has about 80,000 apps right now.
But a lot of developers are still wary to spill resources into developing for Windows Phone. For example, Rovio has said it’s still evaluating a port of its new hit Angry Birds Space. We’ve been told by countless other developers that making apps for Windows Phone simply isn’t worth it.
Does this mean all Windows Phone apps are bad? No way. There are a bunch of big-name apps in the Marketplace. Many of them like Spotify, Foursquare, and Evernote look a lot better than they do on iOS and Android.
Our take: If Microsoft continues pumping money into Windows Phone app development, which it seems more than willing to do, there’s still a chance the platform can see some modest success.