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Summary:

TextPlus, maker of the popular TextPlus communications apps, is betting on Windows Phone 7 over BlackBerry. The company released its TextPlus messaging app on Windows Phone and expects to roll out its TextPlus Free Calls VoIP companion app in the first half of this year.

textplus

While Android and iOS are running away with the smartphone market, the biggest question is who, if anyone, will become a viable third contender. Scott Lahman, CEO and founder of TextPlus, maker of the popular TextPlus communications apps, is betting on Windows Phone 7. The company has just released its TextPlus messaging app on Windows Phone and expects to roll out its TextPlus Free Calls VoIP companion app in the first half of this year.

This is despite the fact that RIM still has a much larger installed based than Windows Phone 7, and Skype, which Microsoft bought for $8.5 billion, is now finally in beta on the Windows Phone platform. Lahman said even with the competition from Skype, Windows Phone is just an elegant platform that creates great user experiences. And that will allow TextPlus to compete well against Skype.

“The second we saw the OS and (Nokia) Lumia devices, we knew we wanted to support it,” said Lahman. “It’s a beautiful OS with a fresh take on what a phone OS can look like and that’s motivation for us to innovate. The OS brings elements that would be buried vertically to the top and you can see all your conversations, communities and contacts lists very easily. And you can pin specific conversations to the home screen. It’s elegant, easy to use, and it puts all of the elements at your fingertips.”

TextPlus, which connects to traditional PSTN phone systems, allows people to message for free using a dedicated phone number. It has racked up 27 million registered users and is now doing 110 million messages a day and has recorded 27 billion messages sent to date. In December, it got into the voice game with the TextPlus Free Calls VoIP for iOS and Android.

Lahman said TextPlus looked at launching a BlackBerry app a couple years ago, but couldn’t get it up to the quality level it wanted. And then when RIM announced a shift to a new operating system, Lahman said the company put further development on hold until it can get a better sense of what BlackBerry 10 looks like. But even as TextPlus waits, Lahman said it’s pretty clear that Windows Phone will be third place competitor in the market and should eventually displace BlackBerry.

“We didn’t need to be convinced by the numbers but by the user experience,” he said. “I would bet on Nokia and Microsoft to bring some powerful momentum here. These are some hungry organizations.”

Lahman is impressed with the slick panoramic view inside WP7 apps — the Metro user interface — allowing people to swipe between screens rather than click on tabs. And he said even the ability to personalize the app with same accent color from Windows Phone is also a help. Microsoft isn’t funding the app, but Lahman said it is providing some marketing help. That speaks to Microsoft’s continuing need to pursue marquee apps for its smartphone platform, which is now up to more than 70,000 apps.

These kinds of decisions to support Windows Phone over BlackBerry highlight some of the ongoing challenges for RIM. Even though ComScore reported that BlackBerry has 15.2 percent of smartphone users in January, way ahead of Windows Phone at 4.4 percent, RIM still trails in the mind of some developers. An Appcelerator/IDC developer survey published in November found that developers had begun showing significantly more interest in Windows Phone than BlackBerry for the first time. Things are looking up with some more support for the BlackBerry Playbook tablet OS. BlackBerry App World app store is now up to more than 60,000 apps and RIM reported that 13 percent of BlackBerry developers make more than $100,000 from their apps. But with BlackBerry 10 not expected to launch until late this year, RIM stands to lose more ground to Windows Phone among smartphone developers.

Again, RIM may still turn things around with BB10. And TextPlus is just one developer. But the battle for third place will be affected by who can amass the most developer support. RIM can’t afford to be the fourth choice for developers or passed over because of the perception that  developers can make better apps on rival platforms. It needs to keep attracting developers or the future that observers like Lahman predict will become a reality.

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  1. The notion that Windows Phone will be the “third” ecosystem is nonsense.

    Just look at the statistics… after being released in 2010, Windows Phone has less than 2% of the smartphone market. If Samsung’s little Bada platform (which gets little promotion or media coverage) can soundly beat Microsoft’s Windows Phone (which gets billions of dollars thrown at it), it indicates the public has clearly and emphatically rejected Windows Phone.

    On the other hand, Bada’s relative success (compared to Windows Phone) shows that Samsung has the ability to make an OS work. Which is why we should look with interest to the Samsung-Intel Tizen operating system for a third ecosystem.

    Everyone who has bet on Windows Phone (with its promises that success would be around the corner with the Mango update and later the Nokia alliance) has been severely disappointed.

    1. The only reason Bada has more is becuase it was out before. Windows Phone is the 3rd ecosystem because 1. It’s attracting more devs than BB is 2.it’s Microsoft’s mobile OS and they have the money and the power to make it go places. Samsung-Tizen would be TRASH! It will be starting from a more disadvanted position that even what WP started from. I’m a Windows Phone user and I’m not disappointed so what’s your point?

    2. Yeah I have to agree with Adriel. So much more goes in to a mobile platform’s success than just the sheer quality of the OS. its going to be a long and expensive climb for anyone attempting to reach the third place position and Microsoft is in a better position (in terms of money and synergistic potential) than anyone else.

      On a side note, those who say “Windows Phone 7 can’t” are typically those who have never used it. Sure its lacking apps but its leaps and bounds ahead of anything else (aside from iOS and Android) on the market. Its a functional and refreshing design thats more modern and future-ready than any of its competitors (less Android and iOS). I would even argue its at least on par if not better than either of those OSs if you’re willing to put third party apps aside.

      Give WP a try before u bash it. You’ll be impressed.

  2. Really hope bb pulls through and devs come. The playbook is a wonderful device

  3. Lewis Dimelow Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    This was a very nice read, indeed. In my personal opinion, I think Windows Phone will definitely surpass BlackBerry, if it hasn’t done so already.

    1. Doubt that …. I think that devs are holding out on BB because they want to see see the new BB10 that comes out in Sep. As for win phone 7…. It’s been out for quite some time but still isn’t seeing the love. Everyone has high expectations from BB10…. If that rocks…. Msft will have some trouble with win phone 7

  4. If Microsoft plays her cards right, Windows Phone will be the TOP CONTENDER.

  5. Stevenson Nwokenkwo Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Too early to say that people, only if wishes always come true; why does everyone seem to ride on blackberry’s back these days. No need to be aggressive, allow Textplus to be discovered. So basically I have been using “textplus” on the blackberry for years now and it is called BBM. So if would take a lot more wishful thinking. I like windows and think new people who discover it will love it, but it will be hard to get back those you left to other operating systems. So basically this article is saying that Rim isn’t certain, while Windows is? Let Rim speak for itself please, there is enough confusion. Get a grip, money is not the object here, good name is. I used windows for six years and enjoyed it; however, now I seek to explore the alternatives and blackberry does it for me Today. It incorporates the best of both worlds and has been more successful than windows at being a mobile office. Rim 7.0 OS is fantastic and I can only imagine what OS 10 has in store for us; that is something to look forward too. Nokia sat out a whole year, their customer service when down causing them to fall back so much. Now MS has them, hopefully the marriage will work out (hardware + OS). Keep it up Blackberry, they are the pearl in many people’s hands, a bold device and indeed, taken the world by a storm and as such set the pace. Today everyone compare themselves to RIM. I think app developers don’t think like us, and they will definitely explore the OS10. The only thing which kept them away in the first place was the lack of hardware to support their work. So beef you hardware and OS and you’ll get the market RIM. My two cents.

    1. Textplus is not like bbm. With textplus you can text any phone number in the US or Canada not just other bbm or textplus user.

  6. WPp7 clearly isnt a player in the US , but Nokia isnt a player in the US either, however , Nokia rules everywhere else and since Nokia has taken on WP7 to flagship there company ,I can only imagine how big WP7 will get!

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