There can be no doubt that 2012 was a very important year for Microsoft, though it probably wasn’t the successful year the company had envisioned during the planning stages. With the launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, Microsoft’s biggest challenge beyond just getting people to buy them was getting developers to write apps for them.
According to Todd Brix, Microsoft’s Senior Director for Windows Marketplace, there are now more apps available for Windows Phone users “than at any time since we first launched Windows Phone 7 two years ago” (it would, of course, be pretty embarrassing if that weren’t the case). Microsoft certified and published over 75,000 new apps and games in 2012, roughly doubling the number of available apps over the year. Developers also published over 300,000 updates.
The average Windows Phone user, Microsoft says, has downloaded 54 apps, but today’s update doesn’t say how many of these were paid and how many were free. Brix also notes that Microsoft has improved app discoverability by bringing some of Bing’s search features to its store.
Brix writes that the last year was about establishing “a new, scalable platform on the phone and in the cloud upon which we can better achieve our mission: to provide a confident, convenient and customized app experience for our customers across the world, and enable developers to rapidly innovate and realize opportunity.” He also acknowledges that “transitions can be frustrating,” but reassures developers that “it is now complete.”
He also notes that even though most developers are still working on their Windows Phone 8 apps (the platform only shipped a few weeks ago, after all), but developer revenue is already up 40% in the last 30 days since the Windows Phone 8 SDK release and he expects “that to grow with new hardware sales and as apps with the new capabilities like in-app purchase begin to reach customers.”
There have been a few encouraging signs for Windows Phone over the last year, but the platform is still hovering somewhere around a paltry 2.6 percent of the smartphone OS market. Despite Microsoft’s relatively generous payout scheme, most developers will continue to target the most popular platforms first – and that’s where consumers tend to go, too. Brix writes that “there has never been a better time to develop for Windows Phone,” and that’s probably true, but the same can likely be said for the more popular platforms, too.