I know this is a tired old subject that is rather redudant throughout the mobile industry, but I can't help but continue to wonder why no real effort is being made for mainstream applications on this platform that holds a ton of potential in most other areas. I also wonder if we'll ever see a lot of these mainstream applications on Windows Phone. It seems that certain apps will hit the market here and there, such as Instagram (said to be released soon), which is better than some platforms like BlackBerry 10 can say. But for a platform that seems to have everything else going for it, it really does seem like the lack of applications play a major part in why it's lagging so far behind iOS and Android adoption.
And I know, I know - it's the quality, not the quantity. And I am not saying that all applications in the Windows App Store are complete crap, because they're not. Some are perfectly decent alternatives to mainstream apps where developers have dropped the ball. But I am mostly afraid that if the trend of nobody wanting to make an extended effort to bring some of these applications to Windows Phone 8 continues, then Windows Phone is going to face the same struggle that BlackBerry 10 faces currently. I mean, I don't think that Microsoft will try to sell their company anytime soon, but when it comes to mobile I do wonder how the company will fare a few years down the road from now.
From an outsider's perspective, it seems that Nokia's hardware is what is keeping the Windows Phone name afloat. Nobody questions whether the hardware or camera on a Nokia phone is good enough for a smarpthone. Even the specs aren't exactly important as Windows Phone is minimal enough where it doesn't take a whole lot to make a device run the platform smoothly. Nokia is arguably the face of Windows Phone currently, but even when Nokia was a company all on its own they made mention that if Microsoft doesn't start pushing for more developers to create apps for Windows Phone, even the small progression Windows Phone 8 is making within the mobile community won't last very long.
That's not to say that there aren't a good number of people in this world who could care less about mainstream applications, and who don't mind searching for third party alternatives. It's especially easy for people who haven't owned a smartphone from any other platform before. But you know the phrase "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone"? I believe within that phrase holds a good bit of reason behind why Windows Phone 8 adoption is so slow. You have people on iOS and Android who have all of these wonderful mainstream, well-developed applications available to them whenever they want. Then they switch to Windows Phone, and suddenly all that they've been able to do through their smartphone before is no longer easily accessible. You can use Instagram from a PC, but for a social media network that's all about taking pictures of your life, it's kind of hard to drag your laptop with you all over the place and take a picture of that nice glazed chicken you just ordered from that cute bistro nobody has ever heard about (and then smother it in filters - mmm, sepia chicken). The same sort of thing can be said for Vine - it's simply just easiest to use your phone for certain applications. Certain applications that aren't available on Windows Phone. Are there alternatives? Yes. Who is using these alternatives? Probably nobody you know.
Windows Phone 8 has a lot going for it. I think it has a very posh UI, and of course the phones are infamous for cameras. I don't think it's that people don't know about it - I've had people ask me about the Nokia 1020 (Or, as they call it, "That phone with the crazy camera,") on more than one occasion from people who couldn't give two flips about phones otherwise. But with BlackBerry on its way out the door, Windows Phone is the last real platform to compete against iOS and Android, and compared to the other two the app store is extremely lackluster. It is truly the only reason I am afraid of making Windows Phone 8 my daily driver - I don't want to be paying the same amount of money I'm paying every month for less features. Other than that, I love the platform. If apps aren't important to people, I have no problem recommending it to people. But for most people, when you ask them what is most important to them in a smartphone, the first thing they're going to do is start listing off a bunch of applications that Windows Phone 8 more than likely won't have. People don't want to be unsure about switching to a platform, they want to be excited about it. After all, many are going to be stuck with this phone for the better part of two years.
Yes, I truly believe that Windows Phone 8 is in dire need of attention from developers of mainstream applications. It is a good platform. It just needs a little love and attention to convince people its worth checking out.
Image via CNet