Is the app gap still killing Windows Phone?

Apps sell phones, and Windows Phone has long lagged behind both iOS and Android in app availability. Is it finally closing the gap, or is it still being hurt by the app gap?

If you look at raw numbers, Windows Phone still seriously lags behind its competitors. There are an estimated 1.2 million apps available for iOS, and more than 1.3 million for Android according to AppBrain . As for Windows Phone apps, for total numbers, Microsoft now lumps them together with apps in the Windows Store, and as of April, it said that 400,000 apps were available combined in the two stores.

That's pretty dismal. But you could make the argument that total numbers are meaningless, because what's really important are the availability of apps that people really want. But there, Windows Phone falls down as well.

More than a year ago, in May 2013, Canalys found that the Windows Phone store has only about a third of the apps that are most popular with Android and iOS users. Things don't seem to have gotten much better since then.

Last month, WP Central did an analysis of apps available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and the results weren't good for Windows Phone. It used information from App Annie. It found that none of the 13 most popular free games available for iOS were available for Windows Phone. And of the 12 most popular free apps on iOS, it found, a mere six were available for Windows Phone. Overall, among the apps it found missing were WatchESPN, FIFA Official App, YouTube, Snapchat, and Google Maps.

Matt Weinberger, writing for CITEWorld, noted that many of his favorite apps are missing from Windows Phone, including Lyft, Sidecar, Gmail, Google Hangouts, and others.

So is the app ap closing? Not really. And unless it does, Windows Phone will always remain an also-ran.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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