Windows Phone will only account for 2% of app downloads in 2012, firm says

Despite reinforcements arriving this year from Nokia, Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform will only account for 2% of all mobile application downloads in 2012, a recent report suggests. Market research firm ABI Research recently released a new study stating that nearly 36 billion apps will be downloaded to smartphones and tablets this year, and an overwhelming 83% of those downloads will be served to either Android or iOS-powered devices. “Although Windows Phone lags behind RIM’s BlackBerry and even Nokia’s Symbian, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the two percent that we forecast for 2012 would be twice the share the platform achieved last year,” ABI analyst Lim Shiyang said in a statement. “Microsoft is gaining momentum, but its starting point is frustratingly low.” Devices like Nokia’s new Lumia 900, which BGR reviewed on Tuesday, are expected to improve Microsoft’s position in the smartphone market while the firm works on its next major OS release, Windows Phone 8. ABI Research’s press release follows below.

Windows Phone to Represent 2% of 2012’s App Downloads, but Its Future Will Be Brighter

LONDON – April 3, 2012

Mobile users will download nearly 36 billion apps in 2012 and Android and iOS will make up for 83% of the app downloads, while only 2% can be attributed to Windows Phone.

Research associate Lim Shiyang says, “Although Windows Phone lags behind RIM’s BlackBerry and even Nokia’s Symbian, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the two percent that we forecast for 2012 would be twice the share the platform achieved last year. Microsoft is gaining momentum, but its starting point is frustratingly low. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t really a chicken-and-egg problem of low device sales holding back the app business and the slow app business holding back the device sales. It’s more complicated than that.”

There are four factors undermining Windows Phone’s app growth. First, the small device market share is the most obvious drag. Second, Windows Marketplace’s global roll-out has taken a long time, further limiting the number of potential customers. Third, Microsoft has also been slow to enable in-app purchasing, meaning that most of the quality apps remain behind an upfront paywall. And fourth, there have been no tablets built on the platform. Advancement on any of these fronts will have a positive impact.

According to senior analyst Aapo Markkanen, “One message we hear from many developers is that, purely technically speaking, Windows Phone is actually a rather appealing platform. And if it turns out to be a platform for relatively high-end devices, avoiding the fragmentation pitfalls of Android, it won’t even need to achieve a remarkably large market share to attract a vibrant app scene. The arrival of the first Windows 8 tablets, as well as Windows Phone’s upgrade to the Apollo iteration, should also give it a boost, since developers can reuse their code to launch on various screen sizes.”

ABI Research’s study, “Mobile Applications Market Data,” provides insight into the fast-growing mobile applications market. The market data include a forecast for application downloads, segmented by operating system platform, as well as a forecast for application revenues. Also, a list of storefronts, with their key features and regional availability, is provided.

It is part of the firm’s Mobile Applications Research Service.

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