Wednesday 23 October 2013

Can you succeed in the mobile market without a million apps

First you need to get your priorities right.  Are you in the market to sell phones, apps, accessories,  ads or development tools. 
Some has a clear strategy, like Apple with all of the above, but at a price, and they did have the first out advantage.  Others like Google spread the different key parts out to partners like Samsung and Admob, and then if the partners become too successful, like Admob,  take them over.  Then we have the not so successful like RIM/Blackberry and Microsoft/Nokia. 
Blackberry tried to keep their stuff proprietary so if you wanted their software you had to buy their hardware.  That could only take them so far.  Look how successful their messaging software was as  soon as they ported it to ios.
When it comes to Microsoft they don’t seem to have cracked the nut on how to do mobile even if they have plenty of samples to follow.  Their intricate system of 3’rd party development paths for the Windows Phone platform is as bad as Apple’s, without having the advantage of being first with anything.   They should have looked at Google and Android instead if they wanted to see how to be  in opposition.    Google controlled the layout but gave away the OS, and  took control of the app store and the advertising where a lot of the money can be made.  They made it easy to subscribe and fast to submit apps. 
Even though I developed my first app for the Windows Phone, It took me a full month to be ok’d by the Windows app store.  A month I used to port it to Android, and it only took me a couple of days to be set up on Google’s store.  From I submit an app to Microsoft’s store it takes 3-4 days to be approved while it takes 3-4 hours on Google Play.  There is something wrong there.   Yes the Windows app is checked more for compatibility, but is it really necessary with such a limited number of hardware options.  In the end the customer download the apps and uses it if it works and complains if it doesn’t – or more likely throws it away.  That’s what you have trials for.
For and Android phone you have a lot more control over the features than for a Windows phone.  You can write apps that run as services, an essential for most movement logger apps, while this is restricted for a Windows phone “to save battery life”. 
Then it comes to cost, even though setting up in the 2 stores cost about the same, you’ll need a Windows 8 pc, a several hundred quid phone,  and most likely the more than 500 quid .net to develop for a Windows Phone.   Comparable to Apple where you need an Apple computer.  For Android you can do with any pc on any version of OS, a 50 quid phone and a 60 quid development tool.   The funny thing is I can write in VB for both Windows and Android, so it should have been easily portable between the two.  But the high start-up cost for the Windows Phone development tools combined with their limited volume, makes it a much higher risk. 
Microsoft could do so much to improve their app availability by a few cheap and simple steps.  Open the OS for more adjustments and buy up a couple of the largest Android development tool makers and adjust their products so apps already made on them can be easily ported to the Windows Phone platform.  That would really kick-start availability overnight.   

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