This week at its Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft announced the upcoming launch of the Windows Mobile Marketplace. Starting July 27, developers will gain access to the program and be allowed to develop mobile apps that will run on Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5.
Windows Mobile Marketplace joins the application marketplaces from Apple, Palm, Google and RIM (including the requisite “developer contest”). Though Microsoft is late to the game on providing a marketplace for third-party developers to build apps on its platform, it could still be very competitive: The company’s tardiness will be alleviated by its reach.
The platform will also have some appeal in its focus, following Windows’ longstanding paradigm of enterprise-geared products. It will have an emphasis on mobile apps for business use that takes the form of a business category in the Windows Marketplace.
As we discussed in a recent report, the choices continue to grow for application developers or media companies looking to reach mobile users. Do you go for maximum reach as a function of device compatibility (i.e., SMS, WAP site, WinMo app)? Or do you go for maximum engagement and demographic segmentation (i.e., iPhone apps)?
Other considerations are the capabilities of the platform and how they match up to your application’s goals. The iPhone has some deficiencies in this regard (i.e., background functionality), which some developers have cited as reasons for opting for Android or other platforms instead.
Meanwhile, Windows Mobile is far less attractive qualitatively: It’s built to a highest common denominator of the hundreds of disparate handsets on which it operates. This compromises the capabilities of apps, compared with something like the iPhone OS, which is built specifically for a single hardware feature set (and a stellar one at that).
But quantitatively, Windows Mobile is king of the smartphone hill (in the U.S.): Reaching its 30 million users will be a draw for many app developers. The enterprise-app angle will also go a certain distance in segmenting audience and attracting developers.
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