Harry McCracken of Technologizer Road an interesting article about the state of third–party application development for Windows Phone 7. If Microsoft wants to win, or even compete, in the smartphone space, one of its biggest challenges is going to be building up a large and high-quality developer community.
Harry’s had a chance to see rough drafts of several Windows Phone 7 apps and says he’s optimistic about Microsoft’s chances in the space, but also points out that the big app players, such as Facebook and Amazon, haven’t officially join the Windows Phone 7 bandwagon. Microsoft will have a very tough time getting people to switch from other smart phone operating systems if they have to give up their favorite apps to switch to Windows Phone 7. if they don’t get huge developer support, I suspect that many Microsoft employees will continue using other platforms despite the promise of a free Windows Phone 7. When Google for started giving away early Android devices to its employees, many stuck with their iPhones, which had a much more mature app market.
The interesting thing about the applications I saw was that all the companies involved seemed to be working hard to build real Windows Phone 7 apps. Their WinPhone interfaces weren’t rehashes of versions for other platforms: They take advantage of distinctive WinPhone features like Live Tiles (which are hybrids of desktop icons and widgets) and Panorama view (which lets you drill into information by swiping through screens). If every Windows Phone 7 developer takes this approach, the ecosystem will feel more like the coherent universe of iPhone apps than like Android, where there’s hardly any consistency from one app to another.
A huge part of the iPhone’s success comes from the fact that most users can quickly learn and use apps. There’s a broad consistency between apps of all kinds, which eliminates much of the learning curve, even for novice users. The sense of familiarity is especially important when buying an app that you want to use immediately.