Web apps might save Windows Phone

Posted by: maartuhh on 29 maart 2015

One of the things that keeps people from buying a Windows Phone is the app ecosystem. “There are not enough app for Windows Phone”. You can argue all you want, but it’s indisputable that most new apps will release first on iOS and Android. At the time of writing this, thereis not a lot of data suggesting otherwise. If this is the one thing that keeps people from switching to Windows Phone, than it’s clear to me that this is a problem and Microsoft should make a big effort in solving it.

Continuing this post, I will present two possible solutions.

This first solution that Microsoft could use is more focus on quality instead of quantity. Numbers are easy to compare for people. If android has x apps and Microsoft has ½x amount of apps, than the comparison is easy for consumers. However, these numbers say very little about quality of apps. Both apps stores are, at the moment, filled with low quality or undesirable apps. Microsoft could decide to focus on quality of apps.

An problem with this solution is that there is no good way to automatically check new apps for quality. This means that Microsoft has to rely on people to monitor the app store. This might not be desirable. Considerable amounts of money would be needed to make such a solution come to life. The Windows Phone community might want to help with this, but that still makes it an human intensive process. In a world in which efficiency is king, this is not an excellent solution.

So, how about a shift in focus?

Nowadays, web apps are a competent replacement for apps. With responsive websites becoming the norm and HTML5 very well supported on all the big platforms, it’s opportunity that Microsoft should really consider for their platform. Microsoft intended with Windows 8 to make a platform that is ready for the cloud. Even their own start screen called modern UI is based on languages used on websites. Clearly, there is no technically no reason why Microsoft could not go this route.

There is at least one platform that is going this route and it’s Ubuntu. Their smartphone OS has a large HTML5 component. Sure, there is still way to develop natively for the platform, but HTML5 is in many ways more convenient like mentioned before. Ubuntu still has to proof that this is a viable way to survive in this market, though. Ubuntu on the desktop is free and even that small price tag is not convincing people en masse, imagine you also have to buy a new device.

This is also the case with windows phone, sadly.

One problem still remains, which is the reputation of web apps. The preference for people is still an app. It’s more widely accepted and people are now used to it. Even in my bachelor ICT class was split on the idea.

In conclusion, I think that Microsoft should consider making web apps a more prominent feature of Windows Phone. It’s an cheap and easy way to get more recognizable apps into the windows ecosystem. In any case, I switched to the web apps from multiple services including Facebook.


Originally published at maartenblij.nl.