Fast Company

Microsoft Toots Its Own Horn About Windows Phone 7, Misses a Few Notes

Windows phone

Microsoft has revealed some statistics to buff up the PR image of its Windows Phone 7 platform--and some of them are fairly impressive. But MS has been economical with the data it's willing to share.

In a post on its Windows Team blog, Microsoft is setting out the "numbers that matter" after a year of Windows Phone 7's existence. Let's peep at what Microsoft is prepared to share:

  • 1.5 million downloads of the Windows Phone Developer tools
  • 36,000 people paid to join the WPD AppHub as official developers
  • 11,500 apps in store--quality over "tonnage"
  • 10,000 apps available faster than "anyone else, without padding the stats"
  • 7,500 apps that are paid downloads
  • 1,200 new developer registrations per week
  • 1,100 apps generating revenue for developers through MS ads
  • 12 average app downloads per month per phone owner
  • 1.8 days average app certification time ("not weeks, or months")
  • 62% of apps passing certification first time
  • 44% of apps include access to a trial version
  • 40% of registered developers who've released an app

Microsoft seems most excited about that last statistic (it's "incredibly exciting when you consider the amount of creativity which is still forthcoming") but skeptics could easily see the statistic in its other light: The majority of developers have decided, after four months of Windows Phone 7 being on sale, not to release an app.

Indeed, a skeptical eye could turn many of these "positive" statistics on their heads. Reaching 10,000 apps faster than Google or Apple did sounds great, until you realize that MS's job was really made easier by Apple's effort, which first facilitated Google's effort--and now the public, and coder community, knows how lucrative apps could be. Twelve app downloads per month also seems good, but if you remember research from Apple's app store about how many apps people regularly use, the percentage of these 12 apps that users actually open even a second time (let alone use frequently) is likely to be tiny. Less than two days for an app certification is certainly speedier than Apple's developer teams typically encounter--but then MS's approvals team isn't getting apps submitted at a ridiculous rate of a thousand per day. And 44% of apps including a trial version is also neat--but how many users actually convert those free trials into a real purchase of the 65% of apps that come with a price tag?

The most interesting number of all, the one that many people would like to see, is hard data on exactly how many consumers have bought a Windows Phone 7 device. That figure would tell us how many apps have actually been downloaded, and thus (with a guess about pricing), how much money they've made for Microsoft. It would also tell us whether the phones have been a success in the smartphone marketplace, although indirectly we hear they're not.

Microsoft is, according to high-profile research published this week, likely to capture around 20% of the smartphone market inside five years--even challenging Apple's projected market share. And slightly ailing global phone giant Nokia has now propped much of its future on MS's code. So these kind of statistics are vital for predicting how the smartphone future may play out.

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