Here’s an encouraging statistic: in just about six weeks, the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has 4,000 apps (many of which are, shall we say, not much better than fart apps). How long did it take Android to reach that figure? Five months. But before you go on declare a victory for the Microsoft camp in the smartphone wars, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. It’s 2010. Apps are important. In 2008 when the G1 launched on T-Mobile, the importance of apps to drive sales of devices were unclear. Today we know that a consumer is more likely to buy a smartphone if they know that they’ll have a healthy selection of apps.
2. Microsoft hedged their bets very well by launching in multiple countries, on multiple carriers, and with multiple OEM partners. It was clear that Microsoft was launching a platform and was heavily invested along with dozens of big companies. When Google and T-Mobile launched the G1 (one device in one country on one platform), it was a bit unclear what the development story would be like for Android, and whether Android would be a win with consumers.
3. Microsoft spent vast resources courting developers, and rightly so. They seeded the development community with development devices (such as the LG Panther and Samsung Taylor), instated several contests to offer money for great apps, and launched an advertising blitz on the web to get attention.
The real proof will come when Microsoft releases sales figures for the Windows Phone 7 launch. It’s one thing to successful spur application development, but at the end of the day, Microsoft stakeholders want to see sales figures.