Why is Windows Mobile Marketplace so thin?

wm65_thumb.jpgI’ve been reviewing Windows Mobile phones for years now, and against all odds, I have to admit to having a soft spot for Microsoft’s Mobile OS.

But at the same time, I do wonder how on earth it manages to score so many own goals. The Windows Mobile Marketplace is just the latest example.

This is Microsoft’s answer to the iPhone App Store and the Android Marketplace, and it forms the cornerstone of Microsoft’s strategy for its consumer smartphone OS – the newly-launched Windows Phone (aka Windows Mobile 6.5), (click to read the full review).

Or rather, it should.

With thousands of applications already existing for Windows Mobile via the traditional download and install route, you’d think Microsoft would (for once) have been able to hit the ground running. Yet at the launch of Windows Phone this morning, the total number of apps in the Marketplace was well short of 100. Shocking.

I asked Microsoft representative Kevin Keith why this was, and after promising that there would be more coming soon, he admitted that it was, rather than developers’ reluctance, “more about us opening things up later than we had hoped.”

wm652_thumb.jpgFurther questioning revealed that, despite all the hype, the registration process for developers only began in July. Given that we’ve been talking about the launch of 6.5 for a year now, it seems incredible that the process has started so late.

Even more astonishing than this, however, was to discover that Microsoft only began the process of approving applications for the Marketplace in September, a mere month before the official worldwide launch.

It’s hardly surprising that apps are so thin on the ground.

The good news is that, over the past 24 hours we’ve seen 20 more apps added, bringing the total to 60.

At that rate it will only take another 11 years and six months before Windows Phone apps match the number of iPhone apps today.

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