What Microsoft can learn from the Apple Application store

By Chris | In Opinion | Posted July 11, 2008 2 comments

With today being the iPhone 2.0 launch, there’s a lot of chat about the new Applications Store and Apple touting the 500 third party applications available initially. Ina Fried already questioned Microsoft about how this compares to Windows Mobile, with the response being that “Microsoft has nearly 18,000” applications” and the implication that this is just the Apple Reality Distortion Field at work. I’m not convinced however.

For starters Apple has a much improved experience, from finding the applications, paying and then through to downloading and installation. Apple offers one main store that is integrated into the devices themselves, with payment made easy via the regular iTunes account. Compare this to Windows Mobile users who typically have to find the programs via a search engine, see if it meets their requirements and and then pay the developer direct.

In addition, a large number of the applications offered now in the Apple store are “official” and by that I mean the developers of the service are the ones who made the iPhone app. Comparing to Windows Mobile, this isn’t always the case. Facebook, MySpace or Ebay developed applications? No such luck. Even Blackberry devices have native applications support from some of these services, which begs the question why is Windows Mobile is being omitted. (Aside, where is the Zune Windows Mobile application for controlling your PC playlist or Media Center application?) Windows Mobile 7 has a lot of catching up to do with the iPhone, and not just in the UI, browsing and attractive hardware arena that are the most obvious improvements Apple has pushed.

Ina also picked up that Microsoft are offering no iPhone applications for their products, and in her interview they downplayed any knowledge of these being in development. Given Activesync has already been licensed, I’d be surprised to see no official applications coming out this year. The Live Search Windows Mobile application is extremely good, why not give the benefits to iPhone users too? After all, Ray Ozzie has a Mesh application for Mac being developed, so offering an iPhone application isn’t such a large leap. With forecast sales of 10million in 2008, it won’t be long until it the iPhone catches up to the 20million Windows Mobile are predicting – with mobile usage rapidly increasing why drive these users away from using other Microsoft products and services such as Windows Live.

Posted July 11th, 2008 at 2:15 am
Category: Opinion
Tags: Apple, Mobile, Windows Mobile
  • Surur

    First, it felt like I was browsing the PalmGear site where 50+ Palm OS calculators were available to download as I saw several different versions of the same type of application, some for free and some commercial. For examply, there are at least 9 Blackjack games, 9 task/to-do list apps, 11 Bible apps, 5 games with Bubble in the title, 8 weather apps, and 10 tip calculator apps (how many of these do we really need?). I encourage variety and development of applications, but I personally expected Apple to keep a bit of a lid on the number of repetitive applications. With over 550 applications currently in the store I think having so many may lead to a bit of frustration on the part of the consumer trying to find the best application in a certain category.
    As I said earlier, it is a bit overwhelming going through page after page of iPhone applications. Each individual ebook is available for 99 cents and is shown as an individual application. Why doesn’t Apple just have an ebook category to make things easier to find? There appear to be a ton of rather useless utilities (IMHO) that I wish weren’t even shown in the store, but maybe they will appeal to one or two people. I know the same thing can be said for S60 and Windows Mobile where there are also a ton of the same rather useless utilities, but I guess I expected Apple to only have the best stuff in their App Store and am a bit surprised at the applications I am seeing in the store.


    Great experience, isnt it. With no trials, after consumers get burned a few times they will soon stop buying software.

  • quikboy

    I definitely agree that WinMo could use a dedicated App Store on their devices. Most of the applications I hear for WinMo are word-by-mouth, and sometimes it can be difficult hunting and pecking around a site to find what you’re looking for.

    The closest thing Microsoft offers, is called “Windows Mobile Catalog” on the official Windows Mobile site (hidden link), and the store isn’t really good. A lot of the applications ‘look’ cruddy, a lot of them you have to pay for (with links to 3rd party sites!), and the experience is far from rewarding. Also, sometimes there’s obscure requirements, and not every WinMo phone will have them.

    I’m guessing that there’s not a lot of official apps for WinMo, because WinMo just isn’t that friendly to develop or use apps for. Most screens on WinMo phones I’ve seen are QVGA or just plain small, and there’s not a lot of flexibility to offer on such a small screen. It’s a good thing HTC is smart to offer bigger screens on their latest phones, as well as good customized apps and skin for WinMo, or else your average consumer wouldn’t want a WinMo phone.

    WinMo needs a ton of work to be “consumer-friendly” instead of business-friendly. An Apps Store is just one of them.