Windows Phone has an app problem. I’m not talking about just missing a few apps from the Windows Phone Store. The problem I’m talking about has to do with the very developers who have created Windows Phone apps, yet treat them like red headed step children. They put the time and effort into creating Windows Phone apps but then abandon them. Let’s take a look at an ad for Audible.com.
This is a screenshot from this video. At about 0:04 two icons appear in the bottom right: Apple App Store and Google Play. Looks pretty normal, except Audible doesn’t only have iOS and Android apps. They happen to have a very nice Windows Phone 8 app. It was used as an example back in the summer when Microsoft was showing off what WP8 apps can do. Audible obviously put some work into the app, so why aren’t they promoting it? Quite a few developers are guilty of doing this.
Check out Urbanspoon’s page for mobile apps. iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, and even Blackberry! But wait, don’t they have a Windows Phone app? Yes, they do. In fact Urbanspoon was one of the first apps to be available with Windows Phone 8 voice commands. Not only do they not list it on their mobile apps page, but on every page of the site there is an “Available in the App Store” button. They have obviously put work into creating apps for all platforms, but when it comes down to it their iOS app is king.
One more example is Foursquare. There are three large buttons on their app page for iOS, Android, and Blackberry. Underneath in tiny font we see they also have WebOS, Symbian, Meego, and last but not least, Windows Phone apps. Yikes. Windows Phone should be in Blackberry’s place, and half of the other platforms shouldn’t even be listed. Many people consider Foursquare’s Windows Phone app to be their best work. Why do they treat it like an afterthought?
Windows Phone already has an app problem, but this problem could be even worse. What good are apps if no one knows you have them? Let’s go back to the Audible ad that was actually on TV. Imagine someone is interested in a Windows Phone, and they are also an Audible user. That commercial comes on and they only see “App Store and Google Play.” Suddenly Windows Phone isn’t that great of an option. Even to people who aren’t Audible users this affects their perception of the platform. When people are constantly bombarded with “available for iOS and Android” that becomes their only option.
If Windows Phone is ever going to beat the app problem they need their own developers to start taking pride in the apps they have already built. The “app gap” that Windows Phone users complain about is slowly closing. We’ve seen that especially in the last few months. If developers don’t care to promote their own apps what does that mean for the platform? If a Windows Phone app is made and no one sees it does it really exist?