Available for iPhone and Android: How marketing is hurting Windows Phone

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,┬áMeego, 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?

  • Good article. Thanks Joe

  • This is so true. Nearly every developer that supports Windows Phone doesn’t advertise it as such. I was actually surprised when I ran across a Windows Phone button on a developer site.

  • Fred931

    The only argument app developers really have is that they aren’t obligated to add the links. I wonder if they are simply uncaring, since the links wouldn’t directly promote their own program (rather, the mobile OSes). As a result, they likely lose very little business.

    Of course, there are only benefits; people who do own a WP device will appreciate the info and link, so that might help. It benefits the platform in question simply by advertising a link to the Marketplace/App Store/Play Store/App World, and that indirectly boosts the pool of likely customers for the program in each individual ecosystem.

    In short: I can’t imagine why spending the 30 minutes to add a button with a link to the bottom of a webpage is an issue for developers and the companies involved. It’s free advertising, free money.

  • C R

    Android had this problem in the beginning too. It took a while for companies to recognize Android even when they had an Android app. It has gotten waaaaaaaaay better now, but it did take time.

  • JSYOUNG571

    Well maybe if Microsoft took Windows Phone’s platform seriously instead of scrapping it over and over again with customers on it, the developers would take it serious. Nobody wants to keep creating an app for Windows Phone platform to have it last no longer than a year as Microsoft decides to scrap the entire thing. And I don’t blame them.

  • CX1

    It so ridiculous that this is occurring that it seems more like collusion than devs being so completely lazy as to not promote their own product. No thanks I don’t want your money?

  • mkr10001

    I noticed the audible one

  • I didn’t even know they had a web-version of their mobile marketplace until after reading this article, and while on it, I couldn’t find any “available on the WP Marketplace” buttons on the site. Does Microsoft have a marketing kit for devs to use like iOS and Android’s buttons? If they don’t, that’s a big problem on Microsoft’s end, not just with developers.

    Microsoft needs to push devs to brag about their apps/WP8 store, and if they don’t take the incentive to even make basic marketing tools to do that in a uniform way, then its no surprise that they get listed under the other versions (or not listed at all, in some cases).

  • WinSource
  • Blame the stuck up developers and founders of startups who hate everything that MS written. Even as WP is dominating RIM, they still will refuse to acknowledge the existence of a Microsoft phone. The Bay area is and always will be land of open source freedom. But it will also always be the land of 20 somethings that shun Microsoft.

  • Thanks for that blog link because I cannot find it on their store anywhere and can’t find it in the developer sections either. It’s in both for Android/GooglePlay and easily found for iOS/Apple. Microsoft needs to get that sorta thing added and visible now and push it hard from the top down.

  • socialcarpet

    Seems like a bit of a cruel joke that Blackberry would get higher placement than Windows Phone, especially considering that the Windows Phone app is guaranteed to be better than the Blackberry one. All Blackberry apps are horrid little turds. At least until BB10 comes out and changes that perhaps…but right now Blackberry World is a nasty little app store full of absurdly overpriced broken apps with permissions issues that look like they were created 10 years ago. Microsoft needs to flex their muscle here and remedy this situation.

  • socialcarpet

    Maybe if people stopped rehashing this tired old line we could move forward. Windows Mobile was scrapped because it was unsalvageable, a non touch centered app in an age of touch centered smartphones. WP 7/7.5 was “scrapped” because it never had the NT kernel Microsoft intended for it and it was never going to be able to grow and compete as-is with modern smartphone OS’s in the future. Now everything is on the NT kernel. There is absolutely no reason to suspect Microsoft will wipe the slate clean again if you know anything about how an OS works. This is it. Besides that, for anyone buying a Windows Phone NOW, what happened in the past is irrelevant. For developers, the majority of their 7.5 apps will run JUST FINE on WP8. If not, they can easily make some small updates so that they do. End of story. There is no VALID excuse for developers not supporting the platform. My god, Microsoft will even PAY for the development costs on many of these apps. If you have something popular on the other platforms, Microsoft will foot the damn bill for development. People developed apps for Nokia Maemo and Meego for f**ks sake which were OBVIOUSLY going nowhere, but they can’t be bothered with Windows Phone? Really? Some part of this HAS to be festering hate for Microsoft and their past sins, I don’t believe for a minute that that does not play a role here.

  • socialcarpet

    Exactly. There is so much latent hate for Microsoft simmering under the surface here it’s obviously playing a role. Some of these neck beard internet freedom warriors are just relishing the fact that Microsoft is the struggling up and comer for once and they want to keep their boots on Microsoft’s neck rather than do anything to help this platform grow. It’s pretty sick considering they all think Google and Android is the second coming of Christ, when it is a buggy OS produced by a company that actually hurts open source as much as they help it and is far more evil than Microsoft could ever have been in their wildest dreams. They think Microsoft is satan for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, but Google is awesome for info-mining every single click they make on the internet and selling the info to advertisers so they can manipulate them into buying crap.

  • Edgar Cervantes

    Companies know not much of their money is coming for Windows Phone. I guess they figure people will get their app if they have the device, anyways. Or maybe it is just more work to add that little icon and link and it doesn’t justify paying people to do it? I don’t know, but I am really looking forward to Windows Phone becoming the third major player. Competition will get really good once the 3 mobile platforms get balanced.

  • JSYOUNG571

    Irrelevant you say? I believe it has very much to do with why Windows Phone 8 is not selling well like it should. Nobody trust Microsoft at this point and I am glad that it is showing. The only thing that has changed about Windows Phone 8 is the hardware. Other than that, you still have the same issues you had with Windows Phone 7 and 7.5. Consumers have given up on buying another Windows Phone and going through the same pains again. They figure they would be better off spending their money on an iPhone or Android. Maybe in a year or two when Microsoft can show consumers that they are not full of a bag of tricks and can keep a steady platform going, then maybe consumers may come back. the key issue here is TRUST, and Microsoft needs to work hard at getting it back.

  • I’ve been noticing this for quite some time now. So glad that someone finally writes about this so something happens for the good of WP!

  • Vlad

    Great point made here. Just makes me appreciate my Windows Phone even more just to spite them.

  • Nick

    AMEN!!!!!! They will continue to crap on us W8 users. I Pray This Changes

  • Paola

    Just like that myth that WP doesn’t have apps, there’s a myth that Android is still buggy (At least now, 4.x version, you can’t say that). And yea, it seems like Microsoft has a lot of enemies (I don’t know why so much hate? I grew up with MS computers anyway). WP has a beautiful interface too but is lacking, some big apps, that’s not a mistery.