The biggest weakness Windows Phone has is the weakness of the Windows app store. However, with the release of the new Windows Phone 8 Microsoft is hoping to lure more app developers to their system.
On iOS marketing an app is a race to the list of Top 50 downloads. If it can’t get there, it’s very difficult to stand out from the 700,000+ other titles in the App Store. The Windows Phone Store, however, has just over 110,000 apps.
The new Windows Phone store has several avenues for apps to stand out in besides simple download rankings. The new store has more than just Top Free and Top Paid lists. Categories include New+Rising (apps whose download rates are spiking), Best-Rated (which ranks according to users’ star ratings), Collections and “Picks for You.”
The “Picks for You” category has personalized recommendations that take into account not only what apps the user has downloaded, but how great a role those apps play on that user’s phone. “What we’re trying to do is say there isn’t a one-size-fits all set of applications that everybody needs,” says Todd Brix, senior director of Windows Phone Apps and Store. “We’re trying to build a phone for not everybody, but for each person. The 50 or 100 apps you might want are certainly going to be different than the 50 or 100 apps that I want.”
With the new categories, the fight for a top spot in the Windows Phone Store won’t play as great a role for developers as it does on iOS and Android. Microsoft hopes that developers who are weary of the nonstop battle for the top positions in other app stores will appreciate that. The biggest reason app developers will feel differently about Windows Phone 8 is that the shared code base and programming model mean that the development work for a Windows Phone 8 app and an app for Windows 8–the broader desktop/notebook/tablet version–substantially overlap. Developing a Windows Phone 8 app gets the developer almost all the way to developing an app for Windows 8, a product that is almost certain to sell hundreds of millions of units.