Last week the situation with Windows Phone Apps was once again in the news as the Marketplace/Store reached 145,000 apps. On one hand we had many critics pointing out that the rate of growth for Windows Phone has slowed considerably. On the other hand we had defenders pointing out that Microsoft has shifted its efforts towards having better app quality over a focus on rapid growth of the number of apps. Defenders also point out that after a certain point quantity no longer matters as you’ll find all the apps you need in the store. At 100,000 apps Apple’s App Store was considered saturated, yet today Microsoft’s 145,000 apps is considered so far from adequate that it is the justification for recommendations not to purchase a Windows Phone.
I’ve put my spin on this topic a number of times over the years, and this time I wanted to take a (mostly) objective look at the problem. Microsoft tries to address the criticism by pointing out how many of the “Top 25″ apps are indeed available on Windows Phone. They do that based on an overall list of downloads on other platforms. Or they’ve focused on certain areas, like gaming and social networking. And by focusing on trying to attract a few high profile apps. I wanted to take a different spin. I’m going to take a handful of categories that are important to me, and I believe many others, and see how well represented apps are in the Windows Phone Store.
Let’s start with Banking and ask a very simple question. Of the Top-10 banks in the U.S. how many have apps available for Windows Phone? Three. And one of those is just for its credit cards. Want to guess how many of those banks have apps in the Apple App Store? All ten.
You might think this is just a banking problem, but it is anything in finance. Windows Phone has apps for Zero of the Top-10 Mutual Fund companies. Seven of those companies provide apps for the iPhone. How about if you just want to do research on mutual funds? Sorry, you’ll need an iPhone, Android Phone, or Blackberry for that.
Moving on, how many of the Top-10 U.S. Airlines have apps for Windows Phone? Three. For the iPhone it is eight.
Now the truth is I was going to do this for several more categories but it is too depressing for me to continue. If you want to understand the situation with Windows Phone yourself step away from a few missing headline apps, and from the nice set of headline apps that have recently been announced on Windows Phone. Step away from the “Is 145,000 apps enough?” question. Instead pick a category of apps that are important and find a “Top 10″ list for those. If it’s a real world category then pick the Top 10 businesses in the real world (as opposed to lists of what are downloaded on other platforms), and see how many of those have official apps in each of the app stores. Try to find categories where Windows Phone has a passing grade. Try.
Note: I did this comparison quickly so counts might be +/- 1 as additional search terms lead to discovery of additional apps. But this won’t change the situation at all.