Windows Phone's app selection has been a hot topic of the platform for most of its existence. While the platform has steadily been adding big name apps throughout 2013, including Pandora, Vine, Temple Run and Instagram, some still feel that the Windows Phone Store is a bit lacking, especially when compared to the likes of Android's Google Play Store and Apple's App Store. Microsoft has predicted that the app gap between it and other platforms will close in 2014, and while we'll just have to wait and see if that's actually the case, Windows Phone did recently cross a major app-related milestone.
Todd Brix, Microsoft's GM of Windows Apps and the Store Team, recently revealed that the Windows Phone Store is now home to over 200,000 apps. Brix also said that Microsoft is working to enable carrier billing with more operators around the globe, revealing that it's seeing an 6x increase in transaction volume in markets where carrier billing is available. Windows Phone currently offers 51 carrier billing connections in 31 markets.
While the Windows Phone Store obviously still has a ways to go before it can catch up to Google Play and the App Store in terms of total number of apps, reaching the 200,000 app milestone is still a big achievement for the platform. We've seen a number of popular apps reach Windows Phone recently to help it reach that number, including the aforementioned Instagram and Vine apps, and other big names like Flipboard and Temple Run 2 are coming soon.
Some have argued that although that Windows Phone is finally getting the top apps that it needs to attract users, some of those apps don't offer the same quality experience that they do on other platforms. For example, Instagram Direct recently launched on both Android and iOS, but it's still missing from the official Windows Phone client. If Microsoft truly wants to close the app gap that it's facing, it'll need to continue to grow the Windows Phone user base and work with developers in 2014 to address this problem. That's easier said than done, but Microsoft has shown that it's dedicated to making Windows Phone's app situation better and getting the platform more traction in the market, and I'm sure that that's one thing that won't change as we head into 2014.