updated 09:20 am EDT, Thu March 31, 2011
Microsoft attacks Android and PlayBook in app wars
Microsoft marked the one-year anniversary of Windows Phone 7 development details with an attack on Android, iOS, and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook. The company's Brandon Watson said WP7 had reached 11,500 active apps by focusing on "quality over quantity" where other rivals had been padding. Google's willingness to accept almost anything as an Android app, Apple's ban on trial apps, and RIM's decision to emulate Android apps on the PlayBook were all hiding the number of meaningful apps, Microsoft's Brandon Watson said.
"We recognize the importance of getting great apps on our platform and not artificially inflating the number of actual apps available to customer by listing 'wallpapers' as a category, or perhaps allowing competitor's apps to run on the platform to increase 'tonnage,'" he said, referencing RIM co-chief Jim Balsillie's own reference to Android apps. "We also don't believe in the practice of counting 'lite' apps as unique quality content. In reality they only exist because developers can't have a Trial API and must therefore do extra work. Finally, we don't double and triple count apps which are submitted in multiple languages."
Watson admitted that it would be hard to avoid a certain amount of flooding from individual e-book apps, but was adamant it had an inherent ability to get high-quality apps. He added that developers were seeing more revenue from WP7 than from "competing platforms" despite considerably fewer phones shipping. It mattered to be in a store where it was easy to get noticed, he said. Although Android and iOS are likely more profitable for developers themselves, both have been criticized for struggling to let users discover the sheer number of new apps.
In a criticism of Apple, he noted that most Windows Phone Marketplace apps took an average of 1.8 days to get approved. Apple has usually touted the vast majority of apps getting approved within two weeks and has notably taken months for some apps with no explanation, especially for apps from Google that it saw as competition. Microsoft has been helped by the considerably lower number of apps it needs approve, where Apple needs to approve thousands each day.
Watson teased the upcoming MIX11 developer event on April 12 and hinted that it would primarily focus on Mango, the major update for late 2011. It brings multitasking, the IE9 web rendering engine, and basic integration with the Xbox 360's Kinect controller.
Microsoft's claims carry some weight but are also somewhat defensive. While its concentration of apps includes more complex titles, Android has over 120,000 apps while iOS claims over 350,000. The size virtually ensures more quality apps along with those the company dismissed as insignificant.