Making Windows Marketplace Worthwhile

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-10-07

10 Reasons Why Microsoft Released Windows Marketplace Too Early

Now that Windows Mobile 6.5 is available, Microsoft has also released its Windows Marketplace for Mobile. The application store currently features about 250 applications. It's only available to Windows Mobile 6.5 owners, but Microsoft claims that Windows Mobile 6 legacy users will also be able to access applications in the store over the next few weeks.

But it all seems so premature. Granted, Microsoft felt that it needed to catch up to the rest of the market and get its app store out there, but did it have to do it this way? That's doubtful. And since Windows Mobile 7 is still on its way and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has already said that it will be the real contender Microsoft plans to bring to the market, maybe the company should have waited to launch its app store.

Here's why:

1. The apps aren't cool

Although Apple has done a fine job of attracting developers to its App Store, it has also done a fine job of getting really neat apps to customers. They have solid graphics. They perform a much-needed task for mobile users. I just don't see how Windows Mobile apps do the same.

2. The apps look outdated

Apple has done a lot of damage in the mobile-phone space. Rather than provide users with an experience that can be easily matched, the apps that currently run on the iPhone and iPod Touch make some apps on other platforms look obsolete. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Unfortunately, apps in that store just don't compare well to iPhone apps. They look outdated and strangely similar to old Windows Mobile apps.

3. Windows Mobile 6.5 is a bridge

Although Microsoft won't like to admit it, Windows Mobile 6.5 isn't meant to be an iPhone competitor. Quite the contrary, the software is designed specifically to bridge the gap between Windows Mobile 6 and Windows Mobile 7, the iPhone's real eventual competitor. That's not to say that Windows Mobile 6.5 can't compete against the iPhone, but since Windows Mobile 7 is the software that will have the best chance of challenging it, Microsoft should have waited to release its app store. 

Making Windows Marketplace Worthwhile

4. There are hardly any apps

Right now, Apple is offering over 85,000 applications in its App Store. They range from games to educational apps. On Microsoft's side, the company is offering approximately 250 applications. When consumers compare those two figures, it doesn't take much for them to realize that Microsoft hasn't done enough to attract developers.

5. Timing doesn't matter

For some reason, I think Microsoft felt that it needed to release Windows Marketplace for Mobile as quickly as possible. Why? Apple was going to dominate the app sector whether Microsoft released the store or not. It should have waited to make sure it was done right and then take on Apple. Offering just 250 applications at launch is a big mistake.

6. Developers do matter

Timing might not matter to Microsoft's success in the mobile-app market, but working with developers does. The company simply isn't doing a good enough job showing developers why they should offer apps in the store. By the looks of things, they're overpriced, poorly designed, and not on the same level as those in Apple's App Store.

7. The platform isn't optimized

Perhaps the biggest issue Microsoft faces with its new app store is that Windows Mobile 6.5 simply isn't optimized to run the apps consumers expect. It was designed to be a platform for the average smartphone user of 2006, not the average smartphone owner of 2009.

8. Experience matters

Say what you will about the iPhone's touch screen, but it's intuitive and it helps improve the overall experience of using apps. Smartphones equipped with Windows Mobile aren't so capable. And the apps designed for that platform aren't as capable either. It's frustrating and it's a problem.

9. Apple is going strong

It might not be the best scenario for Microsoft, but it can't forget that Apple's App Store is on top of its game right now. The store's consumers are adding more apps to phones than ever. Releasing a new app store at the height of that store's success was a major blunder for Microsoft. It should have waited.

10. It's not ready

Worst of all, Windows Marketplace for Mobile is that the store just isn't ready. Access to it isn't optimized. It still doesn't work with Windows Mobile 6 legacy products. And there's no guarantee that it will integrate well with all those platforms when Microsoft transitions to Windows Mobile 7. More thought needed to be put into Windows Mobile 7. And it didn't happen.

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