Microsoft knows that it has to bring more apps to Windows Phone and the company this week released what could be a very important recruitment tool for app developers who have so far been wary of the platform. Microsoft describes its new Windows Phone App Studio beta, which is available to use for free starting this week, as a “web-based app creation tool designed to help anyone quickly bring an idea to life by applying text, web content, imagery, and design concepts to any one of a rich set of customizable templates.” The company is pitching the App Studio to both established developers who want to see how their apps will look and perform on Windows Phone 8 before committing to it, and to aspiring app developers who are less-than-confident in their coding abilities.
Windows Phone is now definitively winning the battle to become the world’s No. 3 mobile operating system. The latest numbers from IDC show that Windows Phone shipments have grown from 4.9 million in the second quarter of 2012 to 8.7 million in 2013, an increase of around 78%. Nokia deserves much of the credit for the year-over-year surge in Windows Phone shipments since its 7.1 million smartphones shipped on the quarter accounted for 81% of all Windows Phones in Q2 2013. More →
With Nokia publicly calling on Microsoft to do more to bring key apps to Windows Phone 8, it’s a good time to check in to see what apps the platform is still missing. Nick Landry, who develops Windows Phone user interface development tools for Infragistics, has made a list of what he believes are the 100 most important iOS apps and has found that Android has 95% of them while Windows Phone has just 63% of them. More →
It seems that Facebook really doesn’t want Windows Phone users uploading photos onto Instagram. The Verge reports that Facebook seems to be deleting all Instagram photos uploaded through Instance, a third-party app that lets Windows Phone users put their pictures on the popular photo-sharing network. Although Instance users can upload their pictures to Instagram, The Verge says that “after just seconds, the photos disappear from an Instagram account and the URLs to access them no longer work.” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom recently said that Instagram wouldn’t be coming to Windows Phone or BlackBerry “anytime soon” and the company appears very determined to keep unauthorized platforms from enjoying its services. More →
Now that Microsoft has unveiled its plan to overhaul Windows 8 later this year, you might think that it’s only a matter of time before it does the same thing to its Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system. But The Verge reports that a Windows 8.1-style overhaul for Windows Phone isn’t likely to debut until 2014 since the company is now in “shut up and ship” mode for current Windows Phone 8 devices. When the update does arrive next year it will reportedly include “a notification center, improved multitasking, and changes to built-in apps” as well as “a rotation lock option.” The Verge’s sources say that Microsoft had originally planned to issue several smaller updates to Windows Phone but that problems with ironing out bugs forced the company to issue one bigger update next year instead.
Sprint on Tuesday announced the upcoming availability of the HTC 8XT, the carrier’s first Windows Phone 8 device. The handset is equipped with a 4.3-inch display, a 1.4GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor and an 8-megapixel rear camera. It also includes 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, 4G LTE connectivity, a microSD slot with support for up to 64GB memory cards and a 1,800 mAh battery. In addition to Beats Audio, the HTC 8XT is the first Windows Phone 8 device to feature HTC BoomSound with dual front-facing stereo speakers and a dedicated amplifier. Sprint will launch the HTC 8XT on July 19th for $99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and new two-year agreement.
Windows Phone 8 may not be making a dent in its home country but it seems to be making plenty of comrades in other parts of the world. Bloomberg reports that Windows Phone has gotten so big in Russia that the country’s largest wireless carrier has actually dropped support for the iPhone because it doesn’t think Apple is offering a fair deal. More →
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system has gotten off to a decidedly slow start since it debuted last year but we may be reaching the point where the platform is finally ready to break through and become the third major player in the mobile space. In some ways this was inevitable since Microsoft simply has too much financial clout to stay on the sidelines of the mobile world for too long. But several recent events have combined to put Windows Phone on the fast track to wider market adoption and there’s really nothing that should prevent Microsoft from growing its market share beyond the 10% range within the next year. More →
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Android and iOS continued to expand their market shares in the United States at the expense of Windows Phone and BlackBerry. The latest numbers from comScore show that Android devices accounted for 52.4% of all U.S. smartphone subscriptions in the spring quarter this year, up from 51.7% in the previous quarter. Apple’s ever-popular iPhone also saw its U.S. market share expand to 39.2% in the spring, up from 38.9% in the previous quarter. More →
HTC’s flagship Android smartphone has been well received by critics and consumers. The HTC One has sold more than 5 million units and is estimated to be selling around 1.2 million units per month. A new report suggests that HTC is looking to capitalize on the smartphone’s success by launching a similar device for the Windows Phone 8 platform. According to Neowin, HTC is working on a “mostly metal” handset that is equipped with a display measuring between 4-inches and 5-inches diagonally. The device is also expected to include Beats Audio technology and an Ultrapixel camera. HTC will reportedly announce the smartphone sometime this fall.
As BlackBerry and Microsoft scramble to catch up with iOS and Android’s hold on app developers’ attention, it’s become clear that Microsoft has a distinct advantage that BlackBerry simply cannot match: Lots and lots of cash. Both Bloomberg Businessweek and Business Insider report that Microsoft is paying developers up to $100,000 to bring their applications over to Windows Phone 8. While this might seem like a lot of money just to convince developers to create apps for Windows Phone, Business Insider’s Julie Bort notes that it’s a relative drop in the bucket for Microsoft, which is also paying Nokia “$1 billion a year to make Windows phones.”
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform hasn’t exactly been a ringing success so far, partly because third-party vendors typically see it as an afterthought compared to Android. Digitimes‘ supply chain sources now say that smartphone makers’ enthusiasm for Windows Phone 8 has waned in recent months due to both low adoption among consumers and high licensing fees that give them little reason to invest significant resources in the platform when they can use Android for free. What’s more, vendors are reportedly wary of Windows Phone because it doesn’t allow for the same level of customization that Android does, which makes it harder for companies to differentiate their own Windows Phone devices from those offered by Nokia.
The latest numbers from IDC show that Windows Phone is still having a tough time gaining traction, as the operating system was found on just 3.2% of all smartphones shipped in the first quarter of 2013. And things could look even worse for Microsoft in the second quarter since Windows Phone devices will have to go toe-to-toe with heavyweight flagships being rolled out by both Samsung and HTC, as well as the low-cost BlackBerry Q5 that BlackBerry is aggressively pushing into emerging markets. In fact, the only company that’s really devoting a lot of resources toward manufacturing and publicizing Windows Phone devices is Nokia, which really has no choice since it has chosen Windows Phone as its exclusive operating system. More →