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After 16 Months, Windows Phone Has 70k Apps. How Long Did it Take iOS and Android?

25 March 201218 comments Android, inneractive, iPhone, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Industry, Nokia

By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)

The whole Mac vs PC debate is so 2011 and it has been replaced by iOS vs Android vs Windows Phone. Well, only a select few believe Windows Phone is even in the game but almost all mobile analysts are a part of that minority. So am I.

But let’s put aside our love or hate of anything Microsoft and look at the numbers. This past week the Windows Phone Marketplace hit 70,000 live apps and 100,000 registered developers in 63 different markets. Again, I want to focus on numbers here and not opinions. Some might say that Windows Phone apps are not as good as iOS apps. Others will claim that the important ones are nowhere to be found on Windows Phone. To those people I say, give the platform some time, the apps are on the way.

Putting all that aside, the growth rate of an app store is at least somewhat of an indication of where the platform is going. Presumably, if there is an app, someone must have developed it. If developers are creating apps for Windows Phone, that must mean they are somewhat optimistic that all the predictions are true and that the platform will indeed take off in the near future.

Here is the thing. So many bloggers are busy belittling that number because 70k is not a million, which is the number of apps in both the App Store and the Android Market/Google Play. All the people making that comparison (Ahem, Scoble) so conveniently forget one thing. The Windows Phone Marketplace launched in October 2010, the App Store launched on July 10th, 2008, and the Android Market launched on October 10th, 2008. Does that really seem like a fair comparison?

What we SHOULD be comparing is the speed at which the stores grow, not the absolute number of apps in the stores.

So let’s get to the numbers…

70,000 Windows Phone apps as of February 2012. The Windows Phone Marketplace launched in October 2010, so some quick math indicates that it took the platform 16 months to reach this milestone. Now let’s take a look at some of the competing platforms.

Let’s start with the leader of the mobile world, Android. The Android Market hit the 80k app milestone in August, 2010, two years after it launched. It took Windows Phone 8 months less to reach 70k. As for the growth rate, the Windows Phone Marketplace has been adding 10k new apps every month. So, bottom line? The Windows Phone Marketplace is growing WAY faster than Android was in its first few years. I don’t think anyone is calling Android a dead platform…

How about iOS? Well, the App Store is a little bit of a different story. As mentioned, it launched in  July 2008 and reached the 75k apps milestone in September 2009. So it took the App Store 14 months to reach 75k apps compared to the Windows Phone Marketplace’s 16 months to reach 70k.

Except, there is one small difference. When the App Store launched, it has close to zero competition. There was no Android Market, and there was no Windows Phone Marketplace. That was obviously not the case with the Windows Phone Marketplace’s launch in 2010.

Oh and one more thing. The Windows Phone Marketplace is available in 41 countries, last time I checked, and the Apple App Store is now available in well over 123 countries worldwide. So again, comparing absolute numbers here is completely irrelevant.

OK, I think you get the point. Windows Phone is far from dead with developers excited about the opportunity to develop for a platform that offers tools as easy to use as Apple’s but with a global market reach as far as Android’s.

Before you pounce on me in the comments, the growth of the app store is NOT the only comparison that indicates the health of a mobile platform. Users are obviously also important as is market share and mindset, all things that Windows Phone lacks. The basic assumption here is that mobile consumers follow the apps, which follow the market interest in an OS. So if Windows Phone keeps up this pace, the users, market share, and mindset will follow. I guess only time will tell!

Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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  1. @krulwich March 25, 2012

    I'd be interested in see stats on how many of the 70K apps are new, and how many are apps that are also found on iPhone or Android. That would be much more meaningful an indicator. If all 70K were just ported from another OS, it's clear that there's no issue of "competition" just that developers can port faster than they can do the original development. If a significant number are unique to Windows Phone then it's an incredible stat.

  2. Gabor March 25, 2012

    Ah, this is the classic example of the "wait! I can actually USE these numbers!! See, if I turn this bit that way, and add context there, and remove context from the other bit, theoretically I _can_ show that <your choice of whatever> is better than <every other whatever>!"

  3. @ptamzz March 25, 2012

    With your logic, you mean to say Google+ is winning compared to Facebook??

  4. @joseiserncomas March 25, 2012

    Quality of apps play a major role in the end-user experience. Quantity and/or speed of growth of apps in any particular store alone should not provide any guidance to (future) success of that particular mobile ecosystem. I could not find any reference to quality in your article…

  5. Simon March 25, 2012

    Where does App market maturity influence the speed atvwhoch apps can be developed. Shouldn't we lookbatvthe number of dedicated developers for Aps instead or as well?

  6. Michael March 25, 2012

    The biggest difference is when Apple and some extent Google launched the mobile app stores, they were a new concept. It was a new way for developers to reach consumers. When Microsoft launched it was expected and needed.

    I think you are right the growing app ecosystem is a good sign for Microsoft but but not because it its growing faster then Android did when it launched. It means developers see value in the platform and that will help consumers see the value in it.

    Windows phone is an interesting platform, and for consumers have 3 strong platforms to choose from is a food thing. So I hope Microsoft can gain some traction with there is. I am personally waiting for the next major version be for considering it. I want higher resolution screen onvmy phone then windows phone currently offers

  7. Rune March 25, 2012

    I agree that WIndows Phone is only getting started and the future is looking bright for that platform.
    However, don't see that the growth is directly comparable. When iOS where launched apps were developed from scratch. I would suspect that out of the 70K apps in WP marketplace a very large percentage are apps that are ported from iOS or Android.

  8. Carlos Pacheco March 25, 2012

    Comparing the speed in which Windows apps is growing vs. the others doesn't make sense today. The market is different, 5 years ago there were no developers and now there are thousands, many who are porting their already existing apps to the Windows platform.

    That said I do think this is encouraging to the platform. I don't own a Windows phone but I have been really impressed the times I have played with it, I would choose it over Android any day.

  9. @starkrow March 25, 2012

    Although the blog is well written, I do disagree partially with the assessment of app store store. Comparing Apple's app store growth rate to Microsoft's is like comparing apples to oranges. Apple started this whole mobile app revolution upon starting the App Store. While mobile apps and app stores existed for many years prior, all failed to achieve traction, growth rate and consumer awareness. As the "first child of the new mobile app revolution", things will be harder than it will be on every subsequent "child". Both Microsoft and Android are now standing on Apple's shoulders, as Apple once stood on Palm, Blackberry and "old school Windows mobile".

    Within the next few years, I do see Android falling off, traction wise. iOS has many "must have" app titles and usually gets first dibs from many developers. Android does have this nor do any players in the Android debacle seem to care. Microsoft, however, is well aware of this. As Windows Mobile grows, they will undoubted use the same methods they used to make the Xbox successful: purchase exclusive rights or early distribution rights to "must have titles".

    I hope Windows mobile succeeds in the long run. It's the only other viable platform, next to ios.

  10. Gwynne March 25, 2012

    Also not an apples to apples compare (no pun intended) because in addition to hitting that number mark, Apple was creating the market. It didn’t exist before.

    Also, ask Rovio about the Windows relevance. If nobody has the phone…

  11. Naren Ubi March 25, 2012

    Exactly, I had similar thoughts. Was collecting information on how fast Android reached the 50k, 70k, 100k mark in the app market. We should give windows some more time. Windows 8 & windows phone 8 (Apollo) are gonna be the big thing for Microsoft this year. Great post !

  12. Steffen March 25, 2012

    Maybe iOS didn't have any competition when it first came out, but whenever you come out with a new product (as the app store for mobile sevices was at that point) it's gonna take some time before people fully buy into the idea. It is always harder to be a market leader than a market follower. At the time WP came out, developers where fully aware of the potential of the app store, and therefore it was easier to make developers come aboard.
    That being sad, I am exited to see where WP is going, I like it a lot better than Android.

  13. Steve March 25, 2012

    Windows app store may be growing at a faster rate than iOS or Android, but one very important factor was left out. There are more app developers and more existing apps now than when iOS or Android started. App developers are just porting their existing apps over to windows, where as for iOS and Android, it was all new apps and all new app development companies. This means there is lower cost and lower risk associated with putting out a windows app in 2012 than putting out an iOS app in 2008.

  14. Frank March 25, 2012

    How much of the speed of growth is due to the fact that mobile apps are much more popular now than they were two years ago? I'm not sure the rate of growth in mobile apps on any platform today can be compared to 2010.

  15. Artur March 25, 2012

    I don't think this is a reasonable discussion at all… In 2008 and 2009 there were far fewer smartphones on the market as well as developers who could write software for mobile devices.
    Let's just hope that Windows Phone will be fine.

  16. Technology Blog December 13, 2012

    i really enjoyed this article thanks

  17. soundtaxi January 22, 2013

    I'd be interested in see stats on how many of the 70K apps are new, and how many are apps that are also found on iPhone or Android.

  18. Sandy February 26, 2013

    You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for more info about the issue and found most people will go
    along with your views on this web site.


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