When an acorn hits your head, the sky is not falling.
You may have seen the headlines begin to pop up after yesterday’s announcement of the Nokia Lumia 928. On the Windows Phone Blog, Microsoft touted that the new Lumia flagship was coming at a time when the Store “now has 145,000 apps and games”. That’s definitely a new number the media hadn’t heard Microsoft talk about before — the last official update came from Nokia, who said there were 130,000 apps during late February.
Obviously since this is some juicy, negative press about Windows Phone’s lacking app situation, it’s exactly the kind of controversial clickbait tech websites love to sink their teeth into. They include the usual suspects which I’m not going to bother linking to. But in my opinion, all of those publications are missing the point: Windows Phone may not be getting the most apps, but it’s finally getting the ones it needs.
Of course, I can’t discount the argument that the Windows Phone Store is slowing down does hold merit. When the Store first hit the coveted 100,000 app milestone last June, it was in my opinion almost unfathomable. Windows Phone had accomplished a feat this monumental much faster than Android or iOS had in their storied past, and with such meager sales momentum up to that time to boot. Now almost 11 months later, Microsoft has managed to keep momentum going for the platform but has produced fewer apps. Does that mean the sky is falling?
Some of the issue may lie in the way Microsoft has approached developers since Windows Phone 8 (and in particular Windows 8), stressing that the Store is seeking quality apps that have unique features on the platform — not just glorified RSS readers for every type of burger sold at McDonald’s. I’m unsure if that narrative has played a role in the way Microsoft approves apps for Store publishing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they stepped up their policing efforts of the Store in recent months to stifle the flood of crud we’d seen before. Heck, we just saw a sterling example of how Microsoft is willing to aggressively take out a chunk of its apps in order to protect a large company’s trademark.
Yet when you take a step back and just look at how many reputable must-have apps have made their way to Windows Phone since the beginning of this year, it’s astonishing. From the YouTube app that took Google two and a half years to begrudgingly approve to the special Pandora app which instantly made the same app on other platforms look lazy by comparison, and all of the Tumblr’s, Hulu Plus’, Speedtest.net’s, Spotify’s, Twitter’s, Disqus’, and Viber’s in between, the app selection in the Store isn’t as lethargic as some claim. To the contrary, I think we’re experiencing a renaissance. And I haven’t even mentioned the rapidly-improving selection of games for Windows Phone yet.
I’m not alone in this line of thinking either. WPCentral’s Daniel Rubino mused about how Windows Phone may finally be reaching a watershed moment in the smartphone market, and how each of the name-brand app victories is contributing to that. Meanwhile, Paul Thurrott penned his own opinions today on the reaction to this new Store statistic, saying the spin-heavy reports rob Microsoft of all of the major progress it has made this year.
So while some see a decline in the rate of Windows Phone Store as the doomsday anti-Microsoft pundits have been wagging their tails in anticipation of since late 2010, all I see is a minor case of Chicken Little — and the sky is certainly not falling.