OK, last week I was pretty hard on the Windows Phone ecosystem and some of you agreed while others called me to task on it for being so full of doom and gloom.
As a fan I always want to see the best in a platform I support and use however, there are times to take a hard serious look at things and evaluate where it all stands.
That was the purpose of last week’s post – a reality check.
This week I get to flip the tables and look at where the platform is heading and there are reasons to be enthusiastic about the future of the platform.
First I must address the issue of pay for developers on this platform.
Last week I mentioned that Windows Phone developers were on the very low end of the earnings chart for their efforts. As someone commented last week most developers, on any platform, are not making a primary living from their work. There are those lucky ones who hit it big on an app or game but the reality is many developers are working a full time job to support their coding habit. Many are also being supported by a spouse who may be the primary wage earner.
So the pay aspect of being a developer for Windows Phone cannot be changed from what the numbers already show.
I talked about a lot of apps leaving the platform last week but there are also companies and services coming to the platform, staying on it and actively maintaining their apps.
Adobe Photoshop Express: Just received an updated release today with new features and access to premium filters at no cost. A company known for its editing tools continuing to put some effort into Windows Phone.
Spotify: Last updated in February 2015 but supports free and premium options for accessing the platform.
Vine: The six second video app from Twitter continues to be supported and updated (03 April 2015) for Windows Phone.
Disqus: One of the largest commenting systems across the web and you can stay connected to it using your Windows Phone. Recently updated on 31 March 2015.
WhatsApp: A popular cross platform messaging system for iOS and Android was updated on 01 April 2015 for Windows Phone and may get voice calling capabilities shortly.
Many US based banks have pulled their apps but, according to this post from WinBeta on 30 March 2015, that is not stopping banks around the world from releasing apps and supporting the platform.
The second largest grocery store in Germany, Lidl, released an app for Windows Phone that is comparable to the iOS and Android versions of the app.
It is not a perfect world because some Windows Phone apps, such as Twitter’s official offering, lag behind their iOS and Android counterparts but there is movement forward. As someone commented last week there are also many abandoned apps on iOS and Android we simply do not hear about them as much as we do on Windows Phone.
With the launch of a single core Windows that will be accessible on devices of all sizes universal apps could be the future growth piece of Windows Phone. It will do it by riding on the coattails of Windows itself.
As Windows 10 approaches, Microsoft has made a big investment in tools to make it easier for developers to create apps/software that can be published on all Windows 10 devices including desktops, tablets, Xbox One and phones. The thought process is that with over 1.5 billion PC users in the world and the offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10 for those on Windows 7 and 8.1 makes it attractive and simple to publish for not only Windows 10 but Windows Mobile 10 as well.
Speaking of moving forward how about usage of Windows Phone?
According to Q1 2015 market share research from Kantar Worldwide, which was summarized on the Customs Today website, Windows Phone now takes up 10.1% of the markets in Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the UK. In the same period Android use fell by 3% in those same countries. On the iOS front those same markets showed growth that was tied to the launch of the iPhone 6. Windows Phone continues to grow in these overseas markets because it is a great place for all of the budget Lumia handsets to make a mark. These markets are where Windows Phone will continue to grow and make a huge impact on the longevity of the ecosystem. Microsoft will be less likely to abandon Windows Phone if it has good market share in these areas and that bodes well for us 3%’s here in the US.
I do wish the news was better in the US because Windows Phone continues to barely move the line with its market share. Some quarters it loses a little ground and in others it may pick some up. There is no doubt that even with a flagship phone, Windows Phone will continue to be a very distant third place platform in the US which is dominated by Android and iOS.
It is widely expected that Microsoft will announce a new Windows 10 Mobile flagship at some point this summer that will likely have a late summer/early fall release date. Unfortunately, it will also not move the market share needle very much. However, a flagship hardware release is important for enthusiasts to build up their support of the platform.
Microsoft has said in the past that they build first party hardware in order to highlight their products and services so Windows 10 Mobile will be an important element of that as well.
Microsoft’s big developer conference, BUILD 2015, begins later this month and when it was announced it sold out in about an hour. So developer enthusiasm is high and a lot of information about Windows 10 will be shared at that three day event.
The road forward for Windows Phone should be much clearer in just a few weeks.