Apps… the final frontier for Windows Phone—the stuff that will make Scoble buy a Windows Phone 7 device and tell others to buy too. It’s an interesting discussion around apps.
I was having dinner with my relatives tonight and there were 3 iPhones and 2 WP7s (both mine, there would’ve been 3 but I had send the Lumia 800 review unit back). Anyway, my kid brother (he started blogging recently, calls himself the iOSJedi), my cousin sister and my father are iPhone users (4S, 4 and 3G respectively). My kid brother has now taken to using popular apps so he’s not “regular people” anymore. He’s an upcoming tech writer, my father and cousin are quite the opposite, they couldn’t care less about half the apps that Scoble talks about. They don’t use Instagram or Path, they aren’t heavy RSS readers, they do use Facebook and aren’t Twitter users. Having an account on a social network (the number these websites talk about) is quite different to having active users.
Point being, Scoble’s app list, not everyone cares. Pandora, yes, there are people who might want it. But then again, not in India. Or half the world where Pandora does not work. I started using Path when I bought my brother’s 4S and somehow I have started liking it. It’s now a place where I update and push to Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter at once. It is convenient and the UI seems interesting. I miss it on the WP7. Instagram is another app that I would love to have on the WP7, it is like Angry Birds—isn’t the most useful or productive app but for a platform, it should be there. It does not matter whether WP7 can do Microsoft Office like no other platform, if it does not have Instagram, it is missing something.
If Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) is a +1, the lack of Instagram, Pandora, Path is a -1. WP7 doesn’t exactly offer something more than iOS or Android to everyone; some would like Office, some would like Instagram. Some like both—and that’s the customer Microsoft should sell to. “We can do this AND this!” is a better sales pitch than “We do this brilliantly but can’t do this.”
This brings me to one argument that is being made with Nokia’s Microsoft partnership. More phones=more developers doing apps. That in my opinion is the Android way of things. The iOS way of doing things is quality and a new opportunity for developers, WP7 is, so far, taking the Android route. It will not work… for quite some time. One can’t wait for more phones to sell to then get developers to do apps. We will keep going around in a circle:
If there are more phones out there—>we will do apps—>if there are more apps—>we will buy more phones
Microsoft needs to use the iOS model… go to the app developers and show them the quality of the platform. WP7 has quite a few benefits over Android when it comes to the platform, go to the guys at Instagram and help them do apps. It doesn’t matter if the first version is a direct clone of the iOS version. Android is a clone of iOS—nobody cares! I would like to point out that the official Foursquare app, while a good effort, is a shitty app. It does not get new features, is slow and well I don’t like to use it. Having said that, Microsoft should hire app developers to whom startups can outsource WP7 client development. It does not have to be the best client amongst platforms—it simply has to be there and actually work.
Now if you ask me, the “Nokia will sell more apps that will get more developers on board” is very dicy situation. You won’t sell phones with that belief, but buzz like Ben’s #SmokedByWindowsPhone and the positive reception by the tech press at CES will bring WP7 into the eyes of developers who then can be convinced to do an app for the phone, we will sell phones, thereby you will sell more apps—that’s how you hook developers.