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Windows Phone 7 Marketplace Hits 50,000 Apps, Still Lags

The market share of Microsoft's mobile platform was just 1.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011, according to Gartner figures.

The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has passed the 50,000-app mark, according to third-party figures from All About Windows Phone, a significant milestone in Microsoft’s quest to re-conquer the mobile space. But despite the number of Windows Phone 7 apps growing at a brisk pace, the market share of the platform was just 1.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011, Gartner figures show.

It took the Windows Phone Marketplace 14 months to reach the 50,000-app mark, while Google needed 19 months to get the same result, and Apple managed to get to the figure in 12 months. Of course, the Google Android Market now has eight times more apps than the Windows Phone Marketplace and Apple’s App Store has more than a half-million apps, so Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do, even though you can find most of the big titles on any of the three platforms.

Why Windows Phone hasn’t taken off

Microsoft’s app store for mobile devices is gaining momentum, as some 265 new items are added to the Windows Phone Marketplace every day, and in just 40 days, 10,000 apps were added to the store. Considering Microsoft’s strategy is to bake many of the popular app features into the OS (popular apps like Shazam, Around Me, Google Goggles have alternative features built right into Windows Phone 7), the rate of growth of the marketplace should be a good sign.

Where Microsoft is lagging, however, is the all-important market share. At 1.5 percent share in the third quarter of 2011, there are Windows Phone 7 devices on all four major carriers and the OS is constantly receiving warming reviews. So what’s the problem?

Charlie Kindel, former general manager of Windows Phone 7, argued in a blog post that it’s not the number of apps, the quality of the OS (which he says is superior to Android) or the hardware. He says the problem lies with the manufacturing partners of Windows Phone 7 devices, which do not invest enough in advertising for the platform, opting instead to push Android. He suggested that Microsoft should try to improve its relationship with carriers, who need to train their sales staff to push Windows Phone 7, as well as with manufacturers, who shouldn’t focus as much on Android, the market share leader.

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