Microsoft's move to rebrand its mobile image and capture the hearts and minds of the smartphone faithful has resulted in the launch of the Windows Phone Marketplace, a retooled and updated mobile application store.
Windows Phone Marketplace replaces the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, as Microsoft makes the transition from its Windows Mobile operating system platform to the new Windows Phone 7 mobile OS.
But as Microsoft works to reimage its ambitious mobile undertaking, its fledgling mobile marketplace has stiff competition in the market in the fully entrenched Apple App Store for the iPhone and the Android Market for smartphones based on Google's Android mobile operating system.
Microsoft is already making waves among developers, who stand to receive a 70 percent cut of each application sale in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Microsoft will take a 30 percent slice. That 70 percent is the same that Apple offers application developers in its Web store. Also like Apple, Windows Phone Marketplace lets developers set the price of applications.
Microsoft also said the Windows Phone Marketplace will have guidelines in place for submissions, meaning, like Apple, Microsoft can accept and reject applications as it sees fit. Microsoft, however, said it plans to make the admission processes transparent to developers to avoid some of the headaches Apple has encountered when App Store application submissions are rejected seemingly without reason.
And while Microsoft has promised developers an easy experience, how will users take to Windows Phone Marketplace?
That's still up in the air. With the old Windows Mobile, Microsoft rounded up a host of loyal users, but those numbers dissipated as the Apple iPhone and Google Android made strides.
Apple's App Store set the bar for mobile application marketplaces. As of January, more than 3 billion applications had been downloaded from the App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch, according to Apple. That was roughly 18 months after the App Store launched. Apple's App Store also offers tens of thousands of applications ranging from games to productivity applications to entertainment to health and fitness and everything in between.
Google's Android Market, while making waves, has been slow to catch fire. As of September, the Android Market features just over 10,000 applications, a number that is consistently growing, but has not yet reached the masses like Apple's App Store.
And the Windows Phone Marketplace, however, launched this week with fewer than 1,000 applications. It has a long way to climb to reach Apple numbers. But Microsoft has aligned itself with some powerful mobile application allies including the Associated Press, EA, Foursquare, Namco, Sling, Shazam, Pandora and Netflix.
Device choice will also come into play, as the iPhone has made a name for itself as a smartphone designed for the use of the Web and mobile applications. Android, too, has become synonymous with the mobile Internet and applications. Windows Phone 7 and the Windows Phone Marketplace will have two powerful rivals to unseat to truly make a splash and Microsoft must align itself with the right device makers to guarantee success.
Overall, it's still early to determine who Microsoft will fare with its Windows Phone Marketplace, but it's certain that the software giant has its work cut out for it while it tries to remake its mobile identity.