Slow global rollout, lack of tablets responsible for Windows Phone’s ‘frustratingly low’ app sales: ABI

Despite significant gains over the past year, Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is still dragging its feet behind rival smartphone platforms in terms of both market share and application downloads.

Market analyst ABI Research forecasts that the Windows Platform will account for just 2 percent of the close to 36 billion apps downloaded on smartphones in 2012. Comparatively, devices running Android and iOS will make up 86 percent of all app downloads for the year.

“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,” said ABI research associate Lim Shiyang. “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.”

Low device sales are hurting app downloads on the Windows Phone (WP) platform but there are other factors at play too. Microsoft has taken a long time to roll out its Windows Marketplace app store on the global scale and has been slow to launch in-app payments -- one of the major drivers for app monetization and a model that has proven popular with consumers.  

App store tracker Distimo believes that the freemium app business model (where applications are free to download but include in-app purchases for extra features) is one of the most important monetization strategies.

In its end of year report for 2011 Distimo said that, “[h]alf of the revenue of the 200 top grossing apps in the Apple App Store for iPhone is now generated by freemium apps. This proportion is even higher in the Google Android Market where 65% of the revenue from the top grossing apps is generated by freemium apps.”

Without in-app purchases quality applications remain behind an upfront paywall, which has proven to be a deterrent to WP users said ABI.

To date, there are no commercially available tablets running the Windows Phone platform, but their arrival in the market should have a positive impact on global WP app downloads.

“The arrival of the first Windows 8 tablets, as well as Windows Phone’s upgrade to the Apollo iteration, should also give [WP app downloads] a boost,” said ABI senior analyst Aapo Markkanen, “since developers can reuse their code to launch on various screen sizes.”

In February 2012 Distimo reported that the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace exceeded a milestone of 60,000 active applications worldwide. In the same month, the WP7 Marketplace overtook RIM’s BlackBerry App World in terms of available applications.

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 5 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report 6 hours ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 17 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake
    Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake.