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Windows Phone Lacking Popular Apps

In my monthly Redmond View column I raised the question, "Can Windows Phone Defy Odds and Gain Share?" It's a valid question given the platform's recent falloff in shipments and the lack of widespread enthusiasm for Windows Phone.

Some of you disagree but the numbers speak for themselves. Nevertheless reader John Fitzgerald feels I need to go deeper. "Your article is pretty short on specifics," he wrote. "I have over 100 apps installed, including many useful ones and have no app gap in my life."

Given that was my monthly column for the print magazine, I was constrained by the word count to elaborate. But Fitzgerald raised a valid point:  If all the apps (or reasonable substitutes) you use on your iPhone or Android phone are available for Windows Phone, you're in business. Indeed if Tyler McCabe, the millennial son of SMB Group Analyst Laurie McCabe, objected to the lack of apps in the Lumia 1520 (he evaluated and described on his mother's blog), he didn't mention it. The computer engineering student is accustomed to iPhones and Android devices. 

In today's mobile consumer-driven world, apps do rule, at least for now. As such, looking at my iPhone, there are a number of apps I use daily that are not available on Windows Phone or the functionality is different. Among them are the Starbucks app, which I use to pay for purchases and manage my account, and the MLB app to track baseball scores and news. When I board flights I use my iPhone to access my boarding pass. That's currently not an option with Windows Phone, though Delta and Southwest offer apps for major phones. When I want to check the train schedules, New York's MTA offers an app for iOS and Google Play but not for Windows Phone. The United States Post Office app I use to check rates and track packages is available only for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. Google recently made a version of its Chrome Web browser for iOS, while the company last said in March it was investigating bringing it to Windows Phone as well.

An app I use throughout the day to access articles on Newsday, my local newspaper, isn't available for Windows Phone and I was told no plans are under way to develop one. Nor does Newsday's parent company, Cablevision Systems, offer one to provide mobile DVR controls and other capabilities.

The bottom line is if I were to switch to a Windows Phone, I'd be giving up a lot of convenience I've grown accustomed to over the years. If others feel the same way, that could explain why, despite some otherwise compelling features, it could be an uphill battle for the prospects of Windows Phone gaining substantial share. Alas, I believe that ship has sailed.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/03/2014 at 12:55 PM


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