Microsoft has made bold steps with its latest offerings, from Windows 8, Surface and Windows Phone 8, but it’s the latter of which that continues to struggle for acceptance. With over 120,000 apps in the Windows Marketplace, Microsoft falls extremely short of Apple and Google’s (recently announced) 700,000 app count. Some say, people don’t use more than 20-50 apps at any given time, but it’s not about how many apps people want or have on their phones, as it is about choice. Imagine walking into a store and seeing 50 products, one of each… then you go next door and they have the same 50 products, but 25 versions of each one, different colors, styles and so forth. Android and iOS offer so much more in terms of choices and that’s why people are choosing them over Windows Phone, despite the fact that Windows is a clean, smooth and very user friendly OS.
But there is more to it than just apps, as Windows Phone 8 grows and tries to add more apps, it may not be enough to gain new customers and that reason falls back to the investment many consumers have already made in the two market leaders. Many consumers have spent hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, on apps over the life of their phone especially if they continue to upgrade to the same OS. A small $.99 cent app here and there to a $7.99 app, it all adds up, and people don’t want to just abandon their content, especially when you tack on music and video purchases. When Microsoft came to the game two years late, it lost more than marketshare, it lost the loyalty of consumers, something that now belongs to Android and iOS.
To take things a step further, if you read the backlash that Apple faced when they changed their dock connector, then you saw just how passionate people are about their phones and accessories. With so many accessories available, especially for the iPhone, it’s just another thing consumers are being asked to give up. Currently, iPhone users (for an example) can walk into stores like Best Buy and Walmart to get things like cases, screen protectors and styluses for their phone, but they can even go to obscure places like Walgreens, convenient stores and gas stations and still find accessories like car chargers. This is something that won’t happen for Windows Phone for a while, if at all.
So while the availability of apps may play a large part in Windows Phone’s success, so does Microsoft’s ability to sway people from their comfort zone and have them abandon their collection of current apps, music and media for an ecosystem that’s still unproven. Can they do that? I guess time will tell, but if the last two years are any indication, it doesn’t look good.