So what’s going here? Microsoft is beginning to share some of their more exclusive apps and games with Apple’s iPhone and vice versa. There is even some positive public acknowledgement between the 2 companies, admiring one another indirectly. Both have acknowledged that there is a “bigger fish to fry” at this point, and its name is Google. Apple is mired in lawsuits with the giant Google and Microsoft is making sure to get royalties out of 80% of Androids sold. It seems MS and iOS won't stop until they get Google's money, tag team legal wrestling if you will. When did their futures seem to take on 1 identity? 2 decades of locking horns and now they’re 2 little love birds sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G…sorry had to get out of the way because a pig just flew by and said hell just froze over.
In my last blog “2012 To Bring A Ton Of Fun For Windows Phone Owners!” I began to touch on the idea of Microsoft playing buddy buddy with Apple in hopes of landing Zynga Games. Microsoft has been busy porting some of the exclusive aspects of the WP to the iPhone. Initially this action on Microsoft’s part drew some anger from the WP community, leading to questions like, “Is Microsoft giving up on WP?” Things are becoming clearer now, pointing to the idea that Microsoft really was trying to attract their rival’s goodies with honey, not lemons. Rumors have began to fly that Instagram, the #1 rated app by Apple currently with 15 million users, will be headed to Windows Phone before Android.
For the few of you unfamiliar with Instagram, it is a free photo sharing app that allows you to take photos, apply a filter, and then share it on Instagram or the other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, Tumblr, and Posterous. It is one of the best photo editing apps available on any of the platforms and extremely coveted by both Android and Windows Phone owners.
So why is Instagram important? For Android, it isn’t as significant because the app will get there, maybe not first, but it will get there. For Windows Phone, it’s not life or death, but it’s pretty DARN important! Starting their OS from scratch after Windows Mobile proved to be unsuccessful; Microsoft’s Windows Phone finds itself in a tough position trying to gain app developers and consumer’s attention in a mostly closed market. Every big name app that arrives to the WP Marketplace brings a little more notoriety and safety in consumer’s minds, that WP is not WM as is a safe choice to migrate to. It appears this year Microsoft will spend more time focusing on bringing the big and most commonly used apps to the newer OS and sooner than later.
Microsoft isn’t just sitting and waiting around hoping for the best. The CEO of Instagram stated that he has interest in both platforms for development of their app. The WP dev team has already been in talks with the dev team at Instagram. Instagram devs are very interested. With an untapped customer base Windows Phone Marketplace offers and the lack of photo editing apps, the appeal is great as apps still stand out in a smaller crowd. In addition, the difficulties because of fragmentation in Android as opposed to the streamlined UI that WP possesses, it would be easier to design the app for Windows Phone due its similarity in design as the iPhone. Windows Phone hopes to get more treatment like this as devs find it easier to build for the WP.
What is new for Microsoft is the fact that they are turning to iOS to get what they need. Since the death of Steve Jobs, there has been a lot of sharing going on between Microsoft and Apple. Of recent, SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud services was made available to the iPhone. Currently iPhone has an XBox Live app, but it’s basic in function, like a companion app. The XBox Live Gaming app will be available soon for both iPhone and Android, Android owners you can thank Apple for that too. One Note is also offered to the iOS. There are others, but the point is Microsoft is sharing important things with Apple.
In return Microsoft is getting a little help in achieving a Marketplace that will be coveted by potential customers. On a daily, there are apps being ported over from the Apple Store, some significant and others not so much. There is a recognition however by devs who build their apps for iPhone that it is simple to port over to WP and more than that, there is financial success beginning to emerge in the WP Marketplace for devs, as opposed to the blending into the overcrowded Android Market. Here is a small list of games and apps that have made their way from the Apple Store to the WP Marketplace:
• North Face Snow Report
• North Face Trailhead
• DoDonPachi Maximum
• Monkey Preschool Lunchbox
• Lola’s Alphabet Train
• Line Runner
• Curling 3D
• GeoDefense Swarm
Microsoft has already committed to bringing the top 25 apps of competing smartphone platforms to its own OS. They have promised to invest millions into this particular process. It seems as though they have already begun bringing their commitment to fruition. Microsoft has made many promises for over a year now with the WP7 and they have managed to follow through with them. I believe the addition of the top apps will be no different. The WP Marketplace hit 60,000 apps this week, which is an addition of 10,000 apps in less than a month. There is no reason to believe they will slow down now.
Microsoft stated that they had to look around them when stripping Windows Mobile down to nothing and realized they missed the boat on what consumers truly wanted in a device. At that point it made more sense to start from scratch. Android’s growth was appealing, but the iOS’s unified ecosystem stood out to Microsoft as the best “ENVIRONMENT” to establish success over time. Microsoft felt that more than one device would be necessary to establish themselves, being such a late entry into the smartphone market and this is where WP differed from iPhone. In an attempt to create a specific environment there had to be some control on the hardware minimums, otherwise you end up with too many variables on an individual basis. This is harder to manage in the long run.
Ask Google how well that is going for them. The lack of control by Google on the specs of OEM’s hardware has led to a multitude of problems exampled by the MANY fragmented devices and the inability to roll out their ICS Update in a timely or efficient manner. The result of the controls set in place by Microsoft has led to some of the highest user ratings and arguably the smoothest UI available of any smartphone on the market.
In addition to mirroring many aspects of the iOS upon WP7’s inception, many trends have begun to follow the same path as well. The Apple Store was the fastest to reach 50,000 apps doing it in just over 12 months. It took Microsoft 14 months to do the same. Conversely, it took Android Market 19 months. While the market share is slow to grow, the formula for success I believe is there, and so does CEO of Apple, Tim Cook. Tuesday when asked about Android and if this is a 2 horse race, this was his response:
“I wouldn’t say it’s a two-horse race. There’s a horse
in Redmond(Microsoft) that always suits up
and always runs, and will keep running.”
Steve Jobs spent a lot of his time belittling Microsoft and lost sight of the WP, and it has snuck up and captured the attention of many iPhone owners. Tim Cook isn’t going to stand by, he sees the Windows Phone and the wonderful product it has become. If he believes in it, then far be it for me not to. I see 2012 being the year that WP becomes Windows Phone and no longer Windows Mobile in people’s mind, and Microsoft is making sure that is the case with its bold and swift actions!
It seems as though WP was built with both Apple and Google ideas to create something in the middle hoping to grab some of the middle ground potential customers. WP is a streamlined OS with more wiggle room than the iPhone and a growing device selection to cater to multiple levels of potential customers, a bit of Android's strategy. Only time will tell if Microsoft took the right approach in using iOS as a guide by building an unified platform, instead of going the Android route of a free for all. This year is the year Windows 8 brings the Metro UI to the mobile device, the tablet, the XBox, and the PC. Actually, Windows 8 seems a bit like Apple used to be with all their colorful and fun innovation. Here comes WP!