Windows Phone VP Stresses App Development A 'Marathon, Not A Sprint'

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In an "Ask Me Anything" web chat on Reddit over the weekend, Microsoft Vice President and Manager for Windows Phone Program Management Joe Belfiore stressed the gains his company has made on app development, calling it a "marathon, not a sprint."

The Windows Phone boss assured the public that his team is working behind the scenes on innovative apps for its product, but welcomed outside developers to bolster their app arsenal.

"We'll do more ourselves -- but while WE are always working on various apps, I would also encourage you to work with the /r/windowsphone subreddit because I know there are devs on here who are looking for ideas of what apps to build," he wrote. "We love seeing the community add-value here too!”

With more than 240,000 apps, Windows Phone 8 is indeed bolstering its arsenal, but is still way behind Android and iOS, which each have north of a million apps to offer. In fact, that is what makes it tougher for Belfiore's team to get the bigger app developers on board, he admitted.

[Related: Partners: Nokia Name Change Shows Nadella Serious About Making Smartphone Gains]

"Fundamentally, the ISVs who write these apps are making business decisions about how they can make the most money -- and as WP has grown, and as MS has invested time & money in the apps, and as the platform has gotten better/stronger... more and more apps have shown up," he wrote. "So -- sitting in 3rd place, it's tougher for us to get the apps -- but I do think that we've made great progress in the last couple of years."

Belfiore pointed at Instagram as one of the bigger apps Windows Phone was able to reel in last year, however, participants of the web chat pointed out that when the more well-known apps do finally come to Windows Phone, they are not updated nearly as often, or offer as many key features, as on the two bigger operating systems.

"Now we're MOSTLY focused on continuing to GET the key apps," he responded. "Although lately with more of these present, we've shifted a bit towards improving the current ones."

Belfiore revealed an update to the Facebook app is coming in June, and his company is "talking" to the makers of Snapchat about bringing their product to Windows Phone as well. But according to some VARs, this may be telling of just how far behind its ecosystem really is.

"It certainly is going to be an uphill struggle to get app developers to work on apps for Windows Phone," said Ira Grossman, CTO of end user and mobile computing for MCPc, a Cleveland-based national solution provider specializing in mobile solutions with its Anyplace Workspace.

"It's a bigger deal than people are making it out to be. They have to convince Facebook and other top developers to update their products, but right now developers like Facebook would much rather allocate to enhance the iOS and Android versions of the app because those are much larger markets."

Microsoft partners counter that it's quality, not quantity, that should appeal to users.  

"There is nothing that I cannot do from an application perspective that is not on Windows Phone," said Ric Opal, vice president at Peters & Associates, a Microsoft partner in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

"There are a lot of bad apps out there, and a lot of redundant ones. The app development community has made great strides in adopting the platform. The business applications have always been there. Device cost is less, cost of development is less; wide-base consumer applications are available."


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