Microsoft and Google have an interesting relationship. Both companies need each other to a certain extent, but both are desperately trying to end that reliance. Google has created Docs to replace Office, Microsoft has created Bing to replace Google Search, etc. Still, they need each other. Chrome primarily runs on Windows, and Microsoft needs Google apps to entice new users to their platforms.
The platform that is struggling the most without Google apps is obviously Windows Phone. There is one official Google app in the Windows Phone Store, and it was updated a little under two years ago. There are certainly options available if you use Google apps, but none of them are official, and that’s what’s wrong. Seeing “Google Inc.” as a developer name shows a certain amount of respect. That respect is present in the Apple App Store, but not here.
Why doesn’t Google have respect for Windows Phone? There are a couple of reasons: market share and competition. Market share is the most obvious reason for why anything is missing from Windows Phone. The latest numbers put Windows Phone at 3.7% worldwide market share, meanwhile Google’s own Android is at around 80%. Market share is obviously playing a role in Google’s decisions, but it’s not the only thing that matters.
Windows Phone is not a very Google-friendly OS
Competition is the other factor in all of this. Google is competing with Apple and Microsoft in the mobile landscape (sure, Blackberry, you can play too). There was a time when Google didn’t have many apps in the Apple App Store, but when the iPhone became so popular they realized they needed to be there. Above all else, the one thing Google needs is people using their services. Market share obviously plays a role in this, but not so much for Microsoft.
The iPhone launched with Google Maps, YouTube, Google Search, and a pretty decent Mail app. iOS always has been a Google-friendly OS. Windows Phone, on the other hand, has none of these things. Bing Maps, Bing Search, SkyDrive, and no ability to make decent 3rd-party browsers makes Windows Phone not very Google-friendly. Even if Google would release a few apps like YouTube and Hangouts they wouldn’t be getting much back in return because users would still be using Bing Search and IE.
Google also knows that there are plenty of people out there just dying to give Windows Phone a try, but they can’t because certain apps aren’t available. If YouTube, Hangouts, Google Docs, and all of these apps were suddenly available there would be nothing stopping a devout Google user from switching. That’s why Windows Phone users are much more dangerous to Google. People want to use Windows Phone, but Google is holding them back.
Windows Phone users are much more dangerous to Google
The relationship Google has with Apple is much less threatening. Google isn’t really worried about people ditching Drive for iCloud, or, well, anything really. Apple doesn’t offer many services that conflict with Google. Microsoft has Bing Search, SkyDrive, Office, Outlook, Skype, etc. Losing a user to Windows Phone could mean potentially losing a lot more.
What needs to happen in order for Google to respect Windows Phone? The easy answer is a lot more market share. There is just too much for Google to lose with Windows Phone. It will take a lot for them to feel like they have to create apps for Microsoft platforms. The biggest weapon we have is the ability to switch away from Google services. Unless things change in a big way we’ll have Google apps when pigs fly.