Microsoft's Windows Phone Apps May Be Benefiting From HP, Google

Microsoft's Windows Phone now offers some 30,000 apps. The platform could draw developers in the wake of HP's abandoning smartphones and Google's acquiring Motorola.

Windows Phone now boasts more than 30,000 applications, according to the Windows Phone App List, which breaks down statistics related to Microsoft's smartphone platform.

Moreover, the Website graphs upward trend lines for not only applications filling the Windows Phone Marketplace, but also total approved developers. Some 47 percent of applications on the marketplace are apparently free, 20 percent are paid applications with a free trial option and another 33 percent cost something.

If Microsoft is indeed enjoying an uptick in the number of Windows Phone applications and developers, it could be the consequence of some fairly radical shifts in the smartphone industry over the summer. First, Google announced its intentions to acquire Motorola Mobility for some $12.5 billion, a move that could alienate other Android manufacturers to the point where they give Windows Phone a second look as a platform for their hardware offerings. Then Hewlett-Packard decided to shut down its webOS hardware efforts, including its smartphones and TouchPad tablet.

Combined, those two events could have increased Windows Phone's attractiveness to developers as a viable alternative to Android and Apple's iOS.

Microsoft executives immediately moved to exploit the Google and HP news.

"To any Published WebOS Devs: We'll give you what you need to be successful on #WindowsPhone, incl. free phones, dev tools, and training, etc.," Brandon Watson, Microsoft's director of developer experience for Windows Phone, wrote in an Aug. 19 Tweet.

By Aug. 22, he claimed (again, via his Twitter feed) that some 1,000 interested webOS developers had sent emails.

Watson's Tweet echoed a comment earlier in the week from Andy Lees, president of Microsoft's Windows Phone Division, who responded to Google's acquisition plans with a widely circulated statement: "Investing in a broad and truly open mobile ecosystem is important for the industry and consumers alike, and Windows Phone is now the only platform that does so with equal opportunity for all partners."

That statement was meant to play off possible fears that Motorola, as a Google subsidiary, will now enjoy certain advantages when it comes to Android, such as offering the newest versions of the platform before other vendors. "The likes of Samsung, HTC and LG obviously don't have any other choice than to say at this point that they welcome the deal," Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst, wrote in an Aug. 15 posting on his blog. "But there's no way that they can compete with a Google-owned Motorola Mobility on a level playing field."

Microsoft's other hope is that its upcoming "Mango" update, due to final release sometime this fall, will spur greater consumer adoption. Samsung, HTC, LG Electronics and Nokia have all committed to building new Windows Phone devices preloaded with Mango, along with Acer and ZTE. Some 500 new elements to the update include expanded functionality for the Xbox Live and Office hubs, new multitasking abilities and Bing deeply baked into the user interface.

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