Show Them The Money? You Sure?
When Google first launched Android OS in 2008 as its premier mobile platform, questions were immedidately raised about its ability to keep pace with the growing number of users moving to iPhone and the commercial success of the App Store. It wouldn’t be until 2010 that Android reached 100,000 apps and over 1 billion download from the then Android Market and even then it wasn’t quite out of the woods since the App Store had 250,000 apps and over 6.5 billion downloads. Windows Phone now sits where Android OS was four years ago, and the task ahead is daunting as it only has around 100,000 available which is less than a sixth of the selection in the App Store and about a fourth of what can be downloaded via Google Play.
Microsoft’s main problem here is that it was gone from the game for too long and developers essentially wrote off it’s ability to make a platform worth creating applications for. As such Windows Phone isn’t very high on most developers list of things to-do especially when theres a larger following and demonstrated payout from iOS and Android apps. To counteract this, Microsoft has started to actually pay developers directly to create apps for Windows Phone, a move that (on this scale) is largely without precedent. When developing apps for iOS or Android the developer has the option to charge a fee for each download or to sell advertising space on the app in lieu of a fee. Google and Apple then take a portion of profits (from non-free apps) as a fee for the apps’ presence on their platform, usually in the realm of 30 percent. Microsoft is directly financing app development for Windows Phone, paying larger sums to firms like Foursquare for an app to the tune of $60,000.00 to $600,000.00
Ideally, the payout for apps will Windows Phone gain ground in development communities against iOS and Android such that Microsoft can gather a solid cadre of developers. If it works and Windows Phone makes real headway against the competition the market could certainly see a change in the landscape of how these tech giants battle for supremacy.
So If The Little Turtle Can Make It To Sea, How Big Will It Grow?
For the consumer, a successful Windows Phone would offer a more cost effective and operationally easier alternative to iPhone and Android. The majority of household desktop and laptop computers (est. between 89.7 and 92.2 percent dependent on the usage rating source) are using some version of Microsoft Windows and Windows Phone would make the transitions between the computer and the phone significantly easier as in many cases there would be no need for additional software. Combine this with the upcoming release of Windows that in large part retains the “Metro” interface, the divide between the users experience with the phone and the computer will become that much smaller.
Enterprises and Enterprise-consumers also have a lot to look forward to in Windows Phone. An app empowered Microsoft product would be sure to further encoach on BlackBerry’s continued dominance in that arena since most enterprises and major corporations in the US use Windows based hardware in their operations. The inclusion of a mobile Office Suite may single handedly seal the coffin for RIM in the enterprise market since neither iOS nor Android has been able to effectively satisfy that need and as such haven’t been able to fill the space.
From a market perspective, a successful Windows Phone present several opportuniities as it would inject new competition into a sector that’s become increasing polarized between Google and Apple. The “biggest losers” won’t be Google or Apple (though they will be affected) but RIM and Sony. RIM and BlackBerryOS have only held the enterprise market because Android and iOS phones haven’t been able to effectively penetrate that niche but Windows phone could since it would integrate seamlessly with the Windows based hardware that most major US firms use. Sony, who stumbles and bumbles about the smartphone space, would fall futher into obscurity since Nokia handsets will play host to the new Microsoft platform leaving several lines of its Xperia to either be scrapped or shifted to Android where they would be no more noticed.
Wireless carriers like Sprint (S), Verizon (VZN) and AT&T (T) are also in this too, as Windows Phones provide a new series of product to secure contracts with. Additionally, more news continues to circulate about the increasing financial burden of subsidizing Apple’s iPhone which costs the carrier $450.00 per model to make the price point attractive against Android devices. As such, the “big three” are making moves to try and make unlocked iPhone sales more attractive and if this trend continues, the cheaper, more streamlined product line from Nokia could easily fill that space.
Windows Phone could also give app developers a new revenue generator and a better negotiating position in their dealings with Apple and Google. The success of the platform would be predicated on the increasing number of people or companies developing for the platform as if the rapid growth of Android after 100,000 apps says anything, it doesn’t take long for an OS to gain momentum. Microsoft is paying out for apps, and with more success there’s enormous opporunity for big profits for apps that really hit home with consumers. In that same vane, the success of Windows Phone would allow developers to argue that Google and Apple should also take on similar policies which in the long term could hurt Google Play and the App Store if developers flock en masse to Microsoft.Powered by Sidelines