Microsoft's Joe Belfiore: Lack of key apps still a problem for Windows Phone

Microsoft announced the first official details of "Update 3" for Windows Phone 8 today, along with a new program for developers that will give them earlier and faster access to OS updates. However, the head of the company's Windows Phone division, Joe Belfiore, said in a new interview today that the OS still lacks some key apps.

Belfiore was not specific about which apps he would like to see appear on Windows Phone in his chat with AllThingsD, but we can guess that he would love to see Instagram, Vine, and many others make their debut on the OS. He said the best thing the company can to to solve this issue is to make Windows Phone more attractive to developers. It's possible that today's announcements might do just that.

Belfiore also said that Microsoft is moving faster that some people might think in adding features to Windows Phone 8. According to him, the new changes in "Update 3" will help Windows Phone expand in new markets. He added, "The work we are doing is valuable, and a lot of people aren’t aware of it."

Finally, while Windows Phone's market share has not increased much in the U.S., Belfiore said that the company has seen bigger sales successes in other parts of the world. For example, Windows Phone devices are outselling the iPhone in Latin America and India. He stated, "We’re small, but growing fast ... We’ll take it."

Source: AllThingsD

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft shows off Xbox One Friends app in new video

Next Story

Windows Phone 8 'Update 3' preview for developers released

69 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I don't see how Instagram or Vine are must haves, by any stretch. I consider 6tag to feel and look nicer than the Android/iOS instagram client anyway.

DarkyDan said,
I don't see how Instagram or Vine are must haves, by any stretch. I consider 6tag to feel and look nicer than the Android/iOS instagram client anyway.

I agree, but you also run the risk of using software that is using unintended API's and puts your account at risk. I personally don't care that my account has been labeled as spam and blocked from searches but many users who are really into instagram do. Rudy does a great job at reverse engineering the security API but all it takes is one misstep, especially as spammers target instagram more and more.

Ironic.
It's not with the "throw-the-towel" attitude they recently had with YouTube that this is about to change.
They should get their act together, roll-up their sleeves and do something.

Well i guess Nokia's bold claims a few months ago of having all the major Apps by years end was..wishful thinking on their part.

As for everyone 'not being aware' of the work the WP Team are doing behind the scenes, perhaps if they actually said anything once in a while we'd all know.

I'm sure when the app stores get sorted out to work on both devices we will see a lot more apps coming to both windows 8.x and windows phone.

People who have iPhones are spending more money on apps and in-app purchases. This has been known for a while now. Android has the sheer size in huge numbers. It's very risky to develop for WP as some developers may not see the return on their investment.

I do hope that the larger apps do make it to WP. As someone stated above, you may not like Instagram or Vine, but to many thats in instant deal breaker. Spotify even is still a little buggy.

Also I do hope with them adding additional options for larger screens, its time to add tile grouping and spacers like Windows 8

One thing I do hope they do though, is get back to the roots of WP and improve on the Hubs. The people hub hasn't been updated in ages, still lacks support for many new facebook and twitter features, as well as a general lack for new social networks. It would be nice to see the hub become a grouping of social media apps instead of an aggregator. The same goes for the picture hub.

We're a small studio and we keep a few Windows Phones around, as well as Windows 8, because we WANT to develop for it. We have a few marginally popular things to port over to it, even. But there are still barriers to entry. It is EXTREMELY easy to neuter Windows (8, especially) apps of advertisements, killing the Free To Play market. There's also still an annual "developer tax" to pay up front, even as we've never broken even on the projects we HAVE put out for it. Then, integration across services is terrible and support is nil.

If they could fix this, we'd be on board. But I fear the problem is at a very core part of their platform and can't be easily addressed.

The main problem with WP is that seasoned developers (for the naysayers = not all but A LOT) in Windows technologies, we know how MS works :

-launch a technology.
-promise that it WILL be the future (Silverlight).
-the technology is not so popular after all.
-MS kills(*) this technology in a snap. (* = extend the support for a decade but MS stops giving, *ahem*, real support).
-Rinse and repeat.

For a developer, is too risky to learn a new MS technology because there is not chance that MS will support it (concrete support and not a simple tech phone support).

In my case, i am not quite convinced about "Modern UI" platform, as a platform and as a market share, also, i don't like XAML (edit any xml manually is a PITA) but it is tenfold times than to program in "HTML5" and "Javascript".

lacks of apps isn't the problem, it is lack of marketshare under the leadership of Joe B. why this guy has a job is beyond me.

neonspark said,
lacks of apps isn't the problem, it is lack of marketshare under the leadership of Joe B. why this guy has a job is beyond me.

One needs to understand that there is a whole team working and now with entire thing being brought under one division, things will take a bit of time. I like the guy and he's quite driven and proud about the work he does. He's passionate which is very important. I have found this in him and Panay Panos

To me, the issue here lies on how to convince developer to develop to a 3rd platform. Sure that when BB had a bigger market share, most apps were available for all three platforms: iOS, Android and BB. With BB's market share shrink, did MSFT expected developers to just jump on the next 3rd ecosystem? For developers, the least platforms they need to develop to, the better.

Also to me the issue is not much about the global, bit applications (like instagram and all that), but also the local ones. For example, most of my local services that I have subscribed to don't have Windows Phone apps. My preferred cab company has iOS and Android app, but no WP. All of my banks have iOS and Android apps (some even BB) but no WP.

This is the main reason #1 why it is likely that my next phone will be an Android. #2 is that Android is open, so even if a manufacturer refuses to release new updates for my phone in the future, I can always go rogue and install something like Cyanogen mod. I'm using the same WP 7.x since Oct/2011 and I will probably hold on to it until the next Samsung Galaxy (that is, providing that Samsung doesn't pull that regional-SIM lock bull -- or that I can bypass it).

I've found it's not worth the trouble to load your own OS on a phone. You may also find stuff you use that you assumed was part of the base OS is actually separately licensed.

recursive said,
If you are worried about updates, you should look into getting a Nexus phone. Stock Android is surprisingly good.

Thanks for the tip folks. Will do.

What Microsoft should have done from the begin.(you can use this title for your next article.) And that is have one app to work on all devices. Also If I Installed an app on my phone it should also installs on all my other devices. I think more developers would be on board.

I think one thing that is ignored is that fact that there are quality third party apps for many of the big apps that are still missing, including youtube.

I think its a bit unfair to just attack WP for lacking the apps when there are third party apps that are actually high quality. I guess most tech journalists, etc, just aren't interested in actually searching the WP market to find out.

Of course having official, first party apps is great, but when you have developers resisting support for the platform, I don't see the harm in holding up third party apps as alternatives at least in the mean time.

My sister taught herself to play guitar using YouTube. I taught myself advance mathematics to pass a module on my Aeronautical Engineering course using YouTube.

I kid you not, the only thing I ever use Instagram for is to check out the photos that the hot girls have posted. On Vine I laugh at stupid videos until I'm bored.

Is it enjoyable? You're damn right it is. That being said, in comparison to YouTube it still it is garbage. Although I'll admit that's too strong of a word in my opinion, but you get the picture, I'm sure.

Windows Phone devices are outselling the iPhone in Latin America and India.

Source?!

Also, I think Youtube is a much bigger problem for Microsoft than Instagram and Vine.

If you follow the news you'll find that WP has actually been outselling iPhone in several markets, the US being the big exception here in general we're closing in or exceeding being the 2:1 underdog right now with WP closing in on double digit marketshare in many major markets and iPhone being well below 20%.

this is true, but on the flip side it's mainly the 520 which isn't really competing against the iPhone but is instead competing against the cheap android handsets, a more equal comparison would be the sales of the 9xx/10xx series and the iPhone.

The only reason the expensive iPhone sells is the cost is hidden in carrier contracts. If people really knew how much they're paying it would be an entirely different market.

paulheu said,
If you follow the news you'll find that WP has actually been outselling iPhone in several markets, the US being the big exception here in general we're closing in or exceeding being the 2:1 underdog right now with WP closing in on double digit marketshare in many major markets and iPhone being well below 20%.

I do follow the news and hence the question. I know about the enormous sales numbers of Lumia 520 but I haven't seen established anywhere that Lumia is beating iPhone sales at least in India.

Spicoli said,
The only reason the expensive iPhone sells is the cost is hidden in carrier contracts. If people really knew how much they're paying it would be an entirely different market.

You mean the same contracts people get into when they get a Galaxy or HTC or Lumia 1020? Lol

stevan said,

You mean the same contracts people get into when they get a Galaxy or HTC or Lumia 1020? Lol

yes, those same contracts.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't use that many different apps.
Could be because of where I live, most apps are useless here anyway
On top of that, I'm really not into the whole posting a pic of everything you do thing, or showcasing my whole life on every single social outlet

Just a few games to pass the time and that's about it

me too... don't miss Instagram at all. In fact I have it installed on my Nexus 7 and never bothered to launch the app, not once!
I think Instagram is way over exaggerated. Can you imagine people in their 40+ using Instagram ?

Stoffel, I would totally agree with you, and it is the same for me; although I do use FB because of family. Unfortunately, the technology has brought us to social media, and it has become a huge consumer consumption on devices like the smartphone.

Sure, I also use FB, it's an easy way to stay in touch with previous customers for me.
My point was that I just really don't need that many apps. I can't think of anything, other then a few games maybe, that I want for my phone, but that is not available.

I'm new to smartphones, only just got my Lumia 520 a few weeks ago. I can't justify for myself spending more then $100 on a phone.

Congrats on the L520. Enjoy.
If you live here in the U.S., you will see that smartphone is more of a consumer device now - people using smartphone for texting, social media, more than actually talking to people. And their phones has tons of apps that they're hardly using.

I guess I would use more apps if I lived in the 'real' world.
There are no apps that would tell me about nice restaurants, bars,.. where I live
we don't have a taxi service, so no need for an app like that,
no movie theaters, so no need for an app for that,....

A smartphone is total overkill for where I live, but I just love my gadgets

Stoffel said,
I guess I would use more apps if I lived in the 'real' world.
There are no apps that would tell me about nice restaurants, bars,.. where I live
we don't have a taxi service, so no need for an app like that,
no movie theaters, so no need for an app for that,....

A smartphone is total overkill for where I live, but I just love my gadgets

It would be nice enough to know where you live because a smartphone is like a PC even in most third world nations. I can't see the argument of not needing a smartphone. Due to the number of apps out there, it makes communication happen for very cheap to most folks.

I live on Utila, a tiny little island on the coast of Honduras.
Some people might replace their pc with a smartphone, but I still like the bigger screen of a laptop. Also having a real KB, just for typing messages like this is a lot easier.

I could easily live with an old dumb phone, but I just like gadgets. I have my laptop for everything else.

Dude, you leave in a very nice island. I wouldn't mind getting lost there for a few days away from all of these gadgets. A Guatemalan girl that I dated showed me some pictures when she and her family went there for a vacation.

I'm not complaining
The only negative aspect of living in a place like this is getting electronics and slow internet connections.
I live with a 1Mb/s connection.
I'm not looking forward to upgrading both my Win8 laptops since you can only go through the store.
This will take me 2 days

Hello,

Im surprised why there arent more devs for WP8. Java (Android) and Objective C (iOS) suck as languages. You have ALL the .NET languages for WP8 right?

riahc3 said,
You have ALL the .NET languages for WP8 right?

It's C# and VB for all app types, and C++ for Direct3D app types and libraries

To be honest, I think there is a collective fear of MS not having competition again. MS has the enterprise and the rise of Google and Apple meant that there was finally competition for MS. The 90s was a fearful time for developers and companies trying to build new and interesting services because there was fear that MS would release a free version of a similar product and pull a Netscape where its all baked into the OS and the choice by default. With MS pulling together the Enterprise, with the same OS and Apps working on the Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, and Phone, there's real concern from devs that leveraging that Enterprise default to have huge numbers of clients out there will once again squash competition in the market. MS is no longer under that 10 year Anti-Trust agreement with the DoJ (which ended in May 2011) where they were prohibited from leveraging their services and Applications against the competition. While there is more competition from Google and Apple, neither of them have the depth or breadth of services MS has and as a result we may see a return to MS''s dominance in the software industry and thus dictate the direction of internet based services and thus cutting out the small developer shop. Its going to be an interesting couple of years to see what happens, but the rise of the Lumia brand and integration of Microsoft's back end services like Office 365 combined with Skydrive, Xbox Live, Music and Video, may make a compelling argument as these services get better and Windows 8.x/9 get rolled out to those businesses. Either way, as a dev, it will be hard to resist the number of clients that will be out there, and that fear of MS regained dominance has made a lot of Devs reject developing for MS.

Drewidian said,
To be honest, I think there is a collective fear of MS not having competition again.
Lets not worry about why idiots are or are not motivated. People don't think they can make the same money on Windows Phone atm... that's the reason. I think it is odd, however, how so few have realized that programming talent exists mass for the tech used to create Windows Phone applications. It should be relatively cheap to produce apps overall. That realization will happen once they see value in deving for the platform.

How about Windows 8/RT? Microsoft must be doing something wrong if they are struggling to get more app developers on board. Perhaps Microsoft should research how Google's Play Store works and emulate it to get more developers.

Nah. All the Microsoft fans who flocked to Google love malware and want to show how l33t they are in removing it daily. Windows Phone can too have the best malware out there just like Windows desktop.

NeoPogo said,
Nah. All the Microsoft fans who flocked to Google love malware and want to show how l33t they are in removing it daily. Windows Phone can too have the best malware out there just like Windows desktop.

but it doesn't.

If I remember it correctly, Instagram contacted the developer of 6Tag, and looked at his work, and after that, Instagram pretty much gave their blessing to the app. They liked what the developer was doing with the app.

Lord Method Man said,
Instagram and Vine? Really?

Lord Method, unfortunately, those are what the consumers are wanting and using. We might not really like it, but for Windows Phone Ecosystem to thrive, it needs those apps.

Lord Method Man said,
Instagram and Vine? Really?

Most people around here could care less about those but for them to be able to grow their market share they need to please much wider audience at this point than just people with a more specific taste...

Lord Method Man said,
Instagram and Vine? Really?

I have been told by people that they love WP8, but because WP8 doesn't have Instagram, they will not get a WP8 device. Once there is an Instagram app for WP8, they will be happy to switch.

When I try to tell them there are 3rd party apps, they look at me befuddled like and shrug their shoulders. I am not a Instagram user, so it's not like I can whip out my Lumia 920 and show them what I am talking about.

Obry said,

Most people around here could care less about those but for them to be able to grow their market share they need to please much wider audience at this point than just people with a more specific taste...

I bet you could. I, for one, couldn't care less.

Lord Method Man said,
Instagram and Vine? Really?
Well, yes. I want them. Since when can you assume that you are a solid representation of Windows Phone users--or even smart phone users as a whole?

I know 6tag and 6sec are incredible (and I doubt the official apps could be much better), but I am sorely missing SnapChat. I have resorted to carrying around my old Android for a few snaps a day ;P

Instagram is the big one for sure, just way too big to not have. And, yes I love 6tag but instant notifications alone make an official client necessary. Plus the worry we will all be labeled as spammers haha.

wixostrix said,
I get instant notifications from 6tag.

According to the app, it does 30 minute background polls for notifications.

incendy said,

According to the app, it does 30 minute background polls for notifications.

I don't have 6tag as I don't use Instagram but you may be getting confused between WP functions.
Toast notifications can be instant (Facebook, Skype). Live Tiles are only able to update up to once every thirty minutes as a WP restriction.

incendy said,
Instagram is the big one for sure

It all depends on what you do with a phone, doesn't it?? Instagram isn't something I use, so I don't miss it. And tomorrow it's appX craze......

Dutchie64 said,

It all depends on what you do with a phone, doesn't it?? Instagram isn't something I use, so I don't miss it. And tomorrow it's appX craze......

I am also not a big instagram user but based on the user base it is a large issue for the platform. Based on numbers of users it is the biggest problem by far.