Microsoft's Windows Phone has managed to amass 30,000 apps in its Marketplace, despite occupying a mere sliver of the smartphone market.
The app count comes courtesy of Windows Phone Applist, which keeps an unofficial eye on Windows Phone 7 activity. Microsoft begin giving tools to developers in March 2010, and a year later hit an official milestone of 11,500 apps. The first batch of Windows Phones launched in October 2010.
Windows Phone 7's app count still trails far behind Apple's App Store, which officially had 425,000 apps as of June, and Google's Android Market, which officially hit 250,000 apps in July. In general, it's rare to see an app reach Windows Phone 7 at the same time as it launches on the iPhone or Android. However, Microsoft has managed to bring some heavy hitters to the Windows Phone Marketplace, including Netflix, Shazam and Angry Birds.
With the upcoming "Mango" update for Windows Phone, Microsoft hopes to entice developers with new capabilities, such as shortcuts to specific parts of an app from the home screen, access to the camera and the ability to dig up information from third-party apps when using the phone's search button. These new features could trigger a spike in Windows Phone's app count, but the lack of an in-app purchase mechanism for most apps will continue to be a setback. (Some Xbox Live games will allow in-app purchases in Mango, but other apps will not have this capability.)
The NPD Group has estimated that Windows Phone accounts for 2 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, compared with 52 percent for Android and 29 percent for the iPhone. The 30,000-app milestone shows that developers believe in Microsoft's platform despite low sales. Too bad HP couldn't inspire the same developer confidence in WebOS.