SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Mobile application developers who’ve concentrated most of their efforts on creating applications to run on Apple iPads, iPhones and various Google Android OS devices are now starting to shift their attention to Windows Phone 8 with the mobile operating system due to officially premiere Oct. 29.
Developers interviewed at the Sprint Open Solutions Conference Oct. 24 and 25 here say they have had to concentrate on writing apps for the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms because that’s where the customers are.
The Apple App Store has 975,000 apps, 275,000 of them optimized for the iPad, according to the latest count. The Google app store, now called Google Play, has 675,000 apps for Android-powered smartphones and tablets. The Microsoft Store, whose opening will coincide with the debut of Windows 8 Oct. 26, offers an inventory of 100,000 apps and games, according to a company statement.
Microsoft faces a chicken-and-egg dilemma in that developers are reluctant to build apps until there are more WP8 devices on the market and consumers are reluctant to buy WP8 devices until there are more apps available.
But developers at the Sprint conference see the market starting to turn.
“People are beginning to realize that their device can do more and be more with better apps,” said Jacob Orrin, director of business development at Quixey, a maker of an application programming interface (API) for creating an application search function inside a mobile Web browser.
Quixey APIs power the search function in Maxthon’s mobile browser and as just announced Oct. 24 at the Sprint event, Skyfire Horizon will add a mobile search function powered by Quixey to its browser extension platform.
As many as 63 percent of application downloads in the Apple and Android stores are apps the user found through search, said Orrin.
While Quixey has been devoting its efforts toward the Apple iOS and Android platforms, he finds the possibilities with Windows Phone 8 “exciting.”
“Microsoft doesn’t shy away from a challenge,” Orrin said. “We know they’ve been behind in the mobile space for a while now, but they’re not scared of trying something fantastic and really going with it.”
He also lauded Nokia for leveraging its Symbian app development team to help benefit the Windows Phone ecosystem. Nokia is phasing out its Symbian OS for its devices and replacing it with Windows Phone.
Microsoft may also gain wider adoption in the application space given the enterprise focus of the company with Microsoft Office, which can run on Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 RT for tablets and Windows Pro 8 for desktop computers, Orrin said.
His sentiment is seconded by Toby Rush, CEO of EyeVerify, a startup that delivers access authentication for smartphones to access a corporate network or a highly secured site such as a bank Website.