Partners Eager For Microsoft Mobile Apps Market

the Microsoft-related blog I Started Something

The blog pointed to Microsoft job postings seeking product managers to oversee the "launch of a v1 marketplace service for Windows Mobile," which would be aimed at "developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile applications."

For Microsoft channel partners who've been nervously watching the galloping success of Apple's iPhone, such a marketplace would be both welcome and long overdue.

"It sounds like a natural response to Apple's wildly successful iPhone marketplace on iTunes," said Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, a Richmond, Calif.-based development firm.

"One of the hardest things to do is to simply install an application on a smart phone. With Skymarket, it sounds like [Microsoft will] not only make it easier, but also provide a place for third parties to advertise and sell their own apps," Stanfield said.

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Chris Rue, CEO of Black Warrior Technology, a Northport, Ala.-based solution provider, said the complexity of developing Windows Mobile applications has inhibited growth of the platform, particularly for smaller developers.

"It's not easy to get into that market. So it seems like lowering the barrier to entry would make a lot of sense if Microsoft is looking to grow Windows Mobile apps on the platform," Rue said.

The issue with buying Windows Mobile apps online is that installation and configuration aren't as simple and as seamless as they are with Apple's iPhone, and that has been one force driving the iPhone's popularity, said Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Fairfax, Va.-based Microsoft Gold partner.

With Windows Mobile, "Microsoft needs to focus on improving the user experience of interacting with devices," Sobel said. "That's what has enabled Apple to catch up to and pass everyone else in a very short time, in terms of ease of use and platform capabilities."

The many developer productivity features coming in Windows Mobile 7 could spawn a huge boom in powerful, cross platform mobile apps that are actually valuable and functional, said Tim Huckaby, CEO of Interknowlogy, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based solution provider.

But although the iPhone platform currently enjoys more industry buzz, Windows Mobile has the potential to dominate the market because of its flexibility, according to Matt Makowicz, principal at Ambition Consulting, a Somerset, N.J.-based solution provider.

"It's easier to write apps for Windows Mobile devices than it is for the Blackberry or the iPhone," Makowicz said.