Windows Phone Market Hits 50,000 App Milestone

Apple iOS and Android are getting all of the hot press this week over the number of new devices on these platforms coming into market over the holiday. But the perennial wannabe Microsoft Windows Phone is making strong advances on the app front.

The All About Windows Phone site, a trade publication that tracks content in that ecosystem, says the Windows Phone Marketplace this week surpassed 50,000 discrete content items added since its opening. To put the growth in perspective, it took iOS a year between July 2008 and June 2009 to go from zero to 50,000 apps, while Android had a much slower start with 19 months before achieving that milestone. Comparatively, Windows Phone was closer to iOS in taking only 14 months.

All About Windows Phone says the acceleration of app additions into the market is encouraging, with 10,000 coming into the system just in the last 40 days. Because some apps are withdrawn by publishers over time, some are region-restricted and others are restricted for use in the enterprise, the site counts 42,655 apps currently available to U.S. consumers.

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Among the content categories, the Windows Mobile Marketplace has a wide spread of apps. While 15% of the items are in the entertainment segment, games, tools/productivity and books and reference materials each has 14% of the marketplace entrants. In terms of business models, 29% of the apps in the market are paid and 58% are free.

Windows Phones have had a slow start in the market, despite enormous marketing pushes and developer programs from Microsoft. New models are emerging in coming months from its partnership with Nokia, and these models may ignite the market yet. Market research firm DigiTrends is expecting the platform to grab a 6.2% share of new phone sales (40 million units worldwide) in 2012. Meanwhile, the company sees Android maintaining dominance, with 57.6% of sales (380 million), and Apple getting 18.1% off of 121 million phones.

In a passionate article making the gadget blog rounds this week, former GM Microsoft Phone Developer Experience, Charlie Kindel argues why the Microsoft offering is not getting the traction he feels it deserves. “WP raises its middle finger at both the device manufacturers and mobile carriers,” he writes in his blog. “WP says ‘here’s the hardware spec you shalt use’ (to the device manufacturers). And it says ‘Here’s how it will be updated’ (to the carriers).” Essentially, he argues that Microsoft has alienated two of the critical constituencies for a new hardware device: the OEMs that need to build them and the carriers who subsidize, sell and implement them.

Small in scale, Windows Phones can boast special effectiveness for marketers, however. According to measurements from mobile ad optimization platform Smaato, Microsoft’s mobile phones delivered the highest click-through rates by far on ads, with a Smaato Index rating of 156. Both Apple (89) and Android (84) were far behind.  

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