Why Are Mobile App Developers Avoiding Windows Phone 8

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nokia_lumia_1020_color_range-100045701-largeWhile Windows Phone 8 market share has shown a modest increase of 1.1% in the past year, some people including Nokia VP Brian Biniak are slamming Microsoft for the continued lack of apps in Windows Phone 8.  But is Microsoft really to blame?  What do you think is keeping developers off of the Windows Phone 8 platform?

Nokia has had a pretty good year with sales of their Lumia line of smartphones more than doubling to 7.4 million units last quarter.  But even with this growth they are still lagging far behind the 70 million Android phones sold and 30 million iOS phones sold in the same quarter.  The reason for this according to Brian Biniak is Microsoft.  In an interview with the International Business Times he states that he believes that Microsoft is distracted with a different set of priorities which has left Nokia struggling to regain its once dominant position in the mobile market.
"It's not just about the hardware, it's about the tools that are on the hardware. You can't sell a phone without the apps, you just can't."  -- Brian Biniak

The complaint from Nokia about the lack of apps is hardly news to Microsoft.  In the past they've gone to great lengths to entice developers onto their platform including providing better commercialization opportunities, refunding developer fees, and in some cases outright paying companies to port their apps.

Lack of apps may not be the only thing hurting the Windows Phone marketshare.  With Nokia's recent push to release more than 10 new Lumia smartphones, it has created a virtual monopoly on the Windows Phone 8 market with more than 85% share.  Only HTC comes close to competing.  Could the lack of differentiation in devices be holding developers back?

Of course another key for developers is the tools that they use to write the apps.  Visual Studio 2013 offer some great new features for building mobile apps including power usage monitoring and performance diagnostics.  But has lack of these tools really slowed down development?

Nokia may not be completely blameless in this situation either.  The exclusivity deals with AT&T for the Lumia 900 and then the 920 made it difficult for people on other carriers to be able to make use of the latest and greatest handsets which certainly doesn't help adoption.  Even now the shiny new Lumia 1020 is only available on AT&T so customers on Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and all the rest would have to wait even if they really wanted the latest Windows Phone device.

What do you think?  Is Microsoft the problem?  If so, what should they do differently?  Is it the manufacturers and their exclusivity deals to blame?  Of is it just the fact that developers only want to spend their time and energy developing for the widest customer pools?  Let us know what you think with our poll and do feel free to leave comments on options we should add for voting!

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Paul Ballard

Paul Ballard is a Chief Architect specializing in large scale distributed system development and enterprise software processes. Paul has more than twenty years of development experience including being a former Microsoft MVP, a speaker at technical conferences such as Microsoft Tech-Ed and VSLive, and a published author. Prior to working on the Windows platform, he built software using a vast array of technologies including Java, Unix, C, and even OS/2.