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Though customers are few, Windows Phone 7 hits 25,000 apps

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While smartphone consumers are still taking their time to embrace Windows Phone 7, Microsoft (s MSFT) appears to be having more luck with developers. The mobile platform has reportedly crested the 25,000 app mark for Windows Phone Marketplace, according to at least one tracker site.

WindowsPhoneAppList puts the number at 25,076 right now, slightly ahead of another app tracker WP7AppList. That’s up from an official count of 11,500 apps announced in late March. It’s a far cry from Apple’s 425,000 iOS apps (s AAPL) and Android Market’s (s GOOG) 200,000 apps, but it’s a pretty impressive showing for a platform that just launched in November but has struggled to convince users to sign on. Gartner estimated that Windows Phone 7 mustered just 1.6 million in estimated sales to end users in the first quarter.

The new app milestone shows that Microsoft is seeing some results from its efforts to line up developers and make it easy and attractive for them to build apps. Even without a large user base, developers are apparently getting in on the act, perhaps in anticipation of bigger things to come. WP7AppList shows that new apps spiked in late May and early June.

I originally wrote about how Microsoft opened its wallet to get some early marquee apps into Windows Phone Marketplace. I’m not sure if Microsoft is still doing so, which could be a factor. But it seems like that the growing developer momentum is due to a number of factors including rising optimism in the platform.

With Microsoft’s deal with Nokia announced in February, it puts the world’s largest phone maker behind WP7. The first WP7 phone from Nokia will appear later this year, but next year should be when we see a lot of WP7-based hardware from Nokia. That partnership has certainly won over research firms like IDC and Gartner (s ti), which expect WP7 to edge out iOS by 2015 to be the No. 2 challenger to Android.

But those projections are a ways off, and it will take time for the platform to prove itself out. The bump could also be due Microsoft’s work in courting developers. It’s put together some great resources for developers and in April, it released a set of tools for iOS developers to help them port their apps over to Windows Phone 7. Microsoft released similar tools for Android in June.

With an impressive-looking software update in Mango coming this September, it looks like WP7 is closing the gap on the competition. As I noted, it’s a solid update that helps WP7 catch up in many ways to its peers. And Mango is open for developers, as of this week.

Microsoft understands it’s about building ecosystems and that’s why Nokia felt it needed to pair with WP7, to erect a third ecosystem that could challenge iOS and Android. WP7 has gotten off to a slow start with consumer adoption, and Microsoft still needs to sell phones and show there’s money to be made on the WP7 platform.

App submissions won’t continue to grow if no one’s buying the phones. But Microsoft seems to be playing with an eye toward the long view, and that definitely includes making sure it’s got ample developer support to ensure the platform remains attractive to users. Research In Motion (s RIMM) and HP (s HPQ) should take note, because getting developer support is increasingly a key part of the success of a platform.

11 Responses to “Though customers are few, Windows Phone 7 hits 25,000 apps”

  1. WP7 is a good OS, the most innovative on the market. But who knows this? most people are followers, they won’t think for them selves. Android is being pushed hard by carriers and manufacturing. Look for yourself at stores that sell phones, its usually a sea of Android and one or few WP7. Steve Jobs is a MASTER at creating a cult following, he is also a great designer who controls manufacturing to retail. WP7 needs more than its very good OS and hardware, it needs mass marketing! and CARRIER support!!!!!!

  2. wondercomp

    I think you, and many other people are missing the most important part of the picture. In order for a platform to be successful, It needs good hardware. Apps, and Operating System, are only part of the equation. Both iOS and Android have Awesome hardware, but in the case of windows 7, It has outdated phones, which is an understatement.

    In my opinion, the best phones for windows 7 were announced when it was first introduced, and of all of the phone manufacturers only HTC did a good job on the design of said hardware. (HD7, Surround, Trophy) The Samsung and LG phones looked like toys.

    The point is that the only phones that I would buy were released planned nearly two years ago. Which is ancient by mobile technology standards… It’s a damn shame that Microsoft always seems to get a part of the big picture in focus, but leaves the rest all foggy.

  3. Chasing app store numbers is something I don’t get. It’s not really a measure of anything. Working for Microsoft, I obviously got my phone for free, but truth be told, it had all of the apps I wanted when it launched. IMDB, Facebook, Twitter and Flashlight 7. Actually, the OS itself has such solid integration with FB, and Gmail for contact syncing, that I require few apps.

    That said, it’s easily the most accessible platform to develop for, hands down. Compare a “hello world” sample between WP7, iOS and Android. There’s no contest. I put out two simple apps in the first two months. We’ll have our thousands of fart apps before too long as well. :)

    • I agree I have created some apps for android in the horrid Eclipse environment and I am on the way to having an app for release in wp7 and am in love with C#, silverlight and WCF. Microsoft definitely knows how to build some infrastructure.

  4. james24

    A Feather that is nonsense wp7 has only that share cause its not available in multitudes like IOS ansd android, wp7 is a better os , have you even tried it. When nokia start getting the phone out to people and the marketing picks up you will see the difference wp7 rocks its only a matter of time before it explodes. give it a try

  5. A Feather

    Quote: “consumers are still taking their time to embrace Windows Phone 7”.

    Well, that’s putting it politely. Windows Phone has been on the market now for around 9 months. Nielsen figures just out show that it only has 1% of the United States phone market.

    How long does it take before this platform gets deemed a complete failure?

    • Crusader

      Wait until Mango is released and the next few high-profile handsets including Nokia. If WP7 isn’t up to 10% market-share by end of 2012 then you can call it a failure.

      • mjw149

        Those two comments don’t follow each other. The United States market share is relevant because it’s the lead market for WP7 and smartphones in general. We can’t expect WP7 to fail, exactly, but it isn’t going well, so that’s a possibility.