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Windows Phone 8 Having Trouble Attracting Developers 268

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-you-tried-bacon dept.
colinneagle writes "Microsoft has promised that cross-platform development across the 8s – from Windows 8 on a desktop to Windows Phone 8 – will be a simple matter, but that's still not enough to get some developers moving on Windows Phone 8 support. The Windows Phone platform has made a remarkable recovery since its reset with version 7. Since then, WP7 has grown to 100,000 apps. But that pales in comparison to the 675,000 in Google Play and 700,000 in the Apple App Store. Granted, there's a ton of redundancy – how many weather or newsfeed apps does one person need? – but it points to availability and developer support. A report from VentureBeat points out what should be obvious: that while developers like Windows 8, they aren't as excited about Windows Phone 8 software because they have already made huge investments in other platforms and don't want to support another platform. A survey by IDC and Appcelerator found 78% of Android developers were 'very interested' in programming for Android smartphones, a slight drop from the 83% in a prior survey. Interest in the iPhone and iPad remained undiminished, with 89% and 88% interest, respectively."
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Windows Phone 8 Having Trouble Attracting Developers

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  • by gtirloni (1531285) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:42PM (#41820833)
    Once carriers start pushing W8 phones everywhere and users get to actually interact with those devices then developer interest will follow.

    It's the cost of not being the cheapest or the first to market.
  • Well, Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:43PM (#41820845)

    Those of us who've seen what happens when we invest time and money in Microsoft's other pet project platforms aren't about to jump on Windows Phone 8.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:46PM (#41820889)
    Gone are the days when your company supported Microsoft's latest or else .

    Today, there is no or else. Microsoft is just another player in a large market.
  • Herp? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:48PM (#41820911)
    It's no surprise. Generally, companies sell "apps" to make money. As of August, Microsoft and other small fry mobile OS's combined represented a whopping 0.6% of mobile device OS's. What's more, that number has declined by almost 50% from a year ago. Why spend time and money developing for a platform that appears to be dying. Developers will probably wait to see if the current rev MS os can turn that trend around before spending more time and money on the platform.

    Source: Gartner [gartner.com]
  • Re:Well, Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:49PM (#41820941) Homepage
    Agreed. Like Windows Phone 7.
  • No surprise here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JDG1980 (2438906) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:51PM (#41820963)

    ""Microsoft has promised that cross-platform development across the 8s â" from Windows 8 on a desktop to Windows Phone 8 â" will be a simple matter, but that's still not enough to get some developers moving on Windows Phone 8 support."

    Bah. Microsoft can't just declare Year Zero and expect everyone to drop everything and follow them. If you are targeting desktop/laptop users, you'd have to be crazy to write for Metro at this point, when the overwhelming majority of your users are still on Windows 7 or even Windows XP. If you want to pitch your software to mobile users, then you can get a much larger audience by targeting iOS and/or Android.

    In other words, writing for Metro will give you access to three platforms... all of which have virtually nonexistent market share at this point. And Microsoft has shown on several occasions in the past that they're willing to pull the plug on various developer technologies if they're falling behind, or just if the business strategy has changed. Ballmer and company can't see this because they are in love with their products, themselves, and the sounds of their own voices. But from the point of view of an independent developer, jumping into the Windows 8 pool now doesn't pay off – the most rational move is simply to wait and see what happens.

    I suspect that Microsoft's actual response to this will be to bribe certain developers to port particular desirable applications to Metro. To an extent this may have already happened.

  • by pointyhat (2649443) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:51PM (#41820967)
    Apart from about 100 apps per platform, the rest are crap universally between android, IOS and winphone. Why is "only" 100,000 apps a problem? the stats are absolutely meaningless.
  • Re:Well, Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:54PM (#41821021) Journal

    Windows mobile 6.

  • by erik umenhofer (782) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:56PM (#41821061) Homepage

    I know this is an on-going flame war, but with Expression Software and Visual Studio 2010/2012, Microsoft has some of the best tools out there for building mobile applications. Throw in testing tools, and you are at the top of the class. After using the tools and marketplace for 2 years now, I can say a couple things.

    *The marketplace has come a long way. It is getting better every day. It used to be a real chore to use year or so ago. It is a lot more streamlined and clean.

    *The bad press recently around marketplace submissions is a crap shoot. I've experienced similar things, but also I've experienced quick easy submissions. It honestly depends on the tester. If things seem to be going bad, there is always a manager you can contact to get things going.

    *Lets be honest too. The iOS and Android marketplaces are FILLED with pure crap applications. I'm not saying that the Windows store is any better, but comparing numbers isn't fair because, most of those apps are useless and are never downloaded.

    *If you know Java or Obj-C, not many people are willing or paid to jump into C#. I'm definitely not interested in learning a new language at this point in my career.

    * Lastly, I think the main problem is traditional Microsoft fear/hatred. I have talked to more "hip" iOS teams that make cooler apps for android and iOS. They showed zero desire to even make an effort to make any apps for Windows Phone. The attitude I saw a lot was just pure bandwagon hatred. "Meh"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:59PM (#41821103)

    Or too much churn in the platform.

    You should use 2.10 no wait 2.11 no wait 3.1 no wait 3.10 no wait for 4 its going to be out of the park wait thats 5 or is it 6 or the soon to come 6.1.

    Oh screw all that use .Net CFW (which does not work on anything bellow 6).

    Oh screw all that use 7 oh wait 8...

    And very little of what you write will compile on winxp/vista/7/8 and if it does all the apis work 'slightly' differently.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:06PM (#41821179) Journal

    I'm afraid that it still depends on what market we're talking about.

    In mobile and tablets, you're absolutely correct. MSFT is a bit player at best here, and you'd get more marketshare by supporting RIM.

    In server-side software, maybe, depending on what your product does.

    On workstations, you're still stuck with supporting them if you want more than 10-15% of the total market. I don't think that's going to change much for awhile still, at least not unless/until Windows 8 completely pisses off enough people to knock Microsoft's marketshare on desk/laptops down enough (and even then most will just go back to Windows 7, just like Vista users knocking back to XP).

  • Re:Well, Yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:10PM (#41821221) Journal

    Those of us who've seen what happens when we invest time and money in Microsoft's other pet project platforms aren't about to jump on Windows Phone 8.

    It will be interesting to see if the way that software is tightly coupled with hardware(hardware that is generally replaced at an alarming rate) in 'mobile' makes this more of an issue than usual.

    It certainly isn't news that Microsoft goes through development fads about as fast as it can dream up acronyms for them; but, with desktop and server cases, it has usually been possible to keep the offspring of a now-deprecated fad limping along for years after it is officially killed. And, while it is hardly the most glamorous part of the technology industry, a lot of people pay the mortgage by handling various aspects of keeping ghastly legacy crap that happens to be vital to something or other up and running. And, while Microsoft never seems very happy about it, they generally have caved to demand for legacy support on the desktop and server side.

    With phones, though, you can't exactly order a stack of WP8 devices from Verizon and then downgrade them to WM6 to support your line-of-business whatever. You are essentially stuck with whatever version is shipping at the moment, with the possibility that some of your older devices might get updates, maybe. That isn't an environment where you can be nearly as comfortable that you will be able to just-make-it-work even after your chosen platform has officially been killed.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:11PM (#41821231)

    VB6, Winforms, dying Silverlight, J# ... Nothing quite says, "I don't give a shit about my developer base or their customers" like dropping a platform and not even making a token attempt to provide an upgrade path that doesn't include the word, "rewrite" even when doing so would be technically trivial.

    Any wonder that nobody is much interested in committing to a platform that will change the next time some genius at Microsoft decides to change the world again? Used to be that you'd at least get a decade out of a platform. Those were the days.

    Hey Microsoft, ARE YOU LISTENING? Oh, wait. The start button that thousands of developers on the forums wanted to retain is gone too. I guess that means, "No."

    Hi Mr. Linux!

  • Re:Well, Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shoten (260439) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:13PM (#41821261)

    Windows CE.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:16PM (#41821293)

    Apart from about 100 apps per platform, the rest are crap universally between android, IOS and winphone. Why is "only" 100,000 apps a problem? the stats are absolutely meaningless.

    Windows simply doesn't have top tier Applications either. If you were comparing top 100 applications I would care more...but I don't. I personally believe choice matters. I have even changed my main Apps browser; music player; Video player several times. I own 80+ applications, and belong to 4 Application Stores, and I'm not a heavy user. The bottom line is though your like ly to get a higher number of top tier applications on a platform with the greatest number of Applications...the reality is very few top tire apps find themselves on Microsoft platform at all.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:32PM (#41821523) Homepage

    The flippant answer is that I absolutely need 7 different fart pianos. Some have different pitches, and some make squishier sounds. I'm composing my masterpiece of farts. ;-)

    The more serious answer is that if people perceive there's not as much software available for Win 8 phones, they're not going to buy one. If nobody is going to buy one, WTF would a developer invest his time into writing apps for it? I'd be surprised if anything more than tiny fraction of all mobiles in win 8 yet.

    The reality is, Microsoft is coming to the game two years after everybody, proclaiming they have the best game in town, and the wondering why they only hear crickets in return.

  • by TejWC (758299) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:45PM (#41821707)

    Even if MS made the best phone OS ever created, it would still be hard to get many developers interested. The "mindshare" of developers is all in Android and iOS. Even 2 years ago, if you were at a mobile developer's conference, nobody would care about what you had to say unless it had something to do with Android or iOS. That is one of the reasons why nobody cared about MeeGo or WebOS even though they were both open source.

  • Re:Well, Yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arashi256 (1804688) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:47PM (#41821733)
    Silverlight...XNA...
  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:49PM (#41821757)

    I think it is correct to call out the promise of portability between windows 8ish platforms as irrelevant because currrently there are no apps or user base for any of it.

    However the core advantage for WP8 is not compatibility with windows but compatibility with existing C/C++ codebases used across all platforms. WP8 allows native code and offers a much more capable and complete API.

    WP8 makes it easier to port codebases from other systems as they no longer need to be totally rewritten to some other language that will run atop a .NET CLR.

    Android has fragmentation and security issues which makes it a pain to develop for without dealing with platform garbage.

    iphone locks you into carriers, no choice of hardware vendors, form factors or ability to install apps without authorization from a central authority.

    If MS gets the development environment and security picture right out of the box which at the 30k ft level it seems they have with jails and choosers as trusted go-betweens to protected or shared resources I could see it being a useful platform.

    Some of the things they have like deep integration with voice recognition into applications to ask applications questions from a voice interface and deep VoIP integration seem very cool to me.

    What I fear will happen is that MS will not open up their platform and allow third party apps to be installed external to the appstore or they will in some other way thru privacy violations and "to the cloud" make the platform sufficiently unappealing to me that I will not bother writing anything for it.

    For exmple WP7 has no way for me to locally sync contacts without uploading them to some microsoft server.

    There is no way to connect to the appstore and forbid Microsoft from wiping my phone or finding my location because these levers are controlled by a web site hosted by Microsoft not by levers in the device itself.

    I can't even use the GPS without it leaking data over my data plan that I pay for to croudsource their a tower/wifi skyhook type system.

    I can't use wifi without it sending NLA type crap to MS servers I have no way of turning off.

    I hate this kind of bullshit shit.. it is a large part of the reason I am not using windows phone. I just want a device that will do what I want it to do and not the endless streams of vendor bullshit that seems to be baked into all modern mobile platforms.

    At the very least I demand a permissionless environment so I can distribute apps myself if I choose to.

    Finally I demand a SDK that does not require me to have windows 8 to develop wp8 apps. In my opinion Windows 8 sucks ass and I refuse to waste my time with it.

  • by eexaa (1252378) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @03:50PM (#41821769) Homepage

    well, even before carriers and developers they should begin thinking about attracting actual users.

  • by erp_consultant (2614861) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @04:07PM (#41822103)

    I'm not a Microsoft developer but haven't we been down this path before with the above technologies? I recall a heavy emphasis on silverlight only to mothball it not long after. if I'm going to write Apps for someone I want some stability and recent history shows that Microsoft has not provided that to their developers.

  • "Android has fragmentation and security issues which makes it a pain to develop for without dealing with platform garbage."
    diversity, not fragmentation, they are different things.
    And the Android isn't that much of an issue. No more then windows; which as many version running at any one time

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @04:27PM (#41822445)

    The idea is if apps are there, users will follow - so they need developers first.

    I would argue that while having existing apps is a necessary condition for attracting users, it's not sufficient in itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @04:46PM (#41822869)

    I am sorry but the freaking SDK for windows Phone 8 was released today. Today!!! Are you saying they shoudl have been attracting developers when the SDK was released a few hours ago. This has got to be one of the stupidest articles I have ever seen posted on /. and that is saying something.

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