Only 2% of downloaded apps will be on Windows Phones in 2012. But it’s not as bad as it sounds

According to a new report from ABI Research, only 2% of the apps that will be downloaded throughout 2012 will be downloaded to Windows Phones.

The total number of app downloads expected for this year is 36 billion. iOS and Android will make up 83% of that number.

Windows Phone will lag behind RIM’s BlackBerry OS as well as the (long-dead, no?) Symbian in terms of app downloads. The bright side here is that its 2% share will at least be double what it saw in 2011. So, one could definitely spin this by saying that Windows Phone app downloads are set to double in 2012 compared to last year.

So why will Windows Phones see such small app download numbers? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not as simple as a chicken-and-egg problem (low device sales holding back the app business and the slow app business holding back the device sales), ABI Research says.

In fact, there are four factors at play here. The aforementioned small device market share is the first one. But another factor is that the Windows Phone Marketplace has taken quite a long time to roll out globally. Without being able to download apps, people obviously won’t.

Microsoft has also been slow to enable in-app purchasing, apparently, making less people purchase paid apps. After all, it’s much easier to make a purchase decision after you’ve already been playing with some of an app’s features.

Finally, there are no Windows Phone tablets. This again goes back to the first reason we’d say – the simple fact that Windows Phone isn’t as spread as its competitors.

However, with some big releases in the near future (one of which is the Nokia Lumia 900 on AT&T), Microsoft is going to keep growing this number of apps downloaded to Windows Phones. And let’s not forget Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) that should be out later this year, alongside Windows 8 and Windows 8 tablets. All of these launches should result in some renewed developer interest for the platform.

Yet if the app download number is going to stay at the current growth rhythm of doubling every year, it’s only going to be at a reasonably decent 16% level in 2015. That’s probably a bit late even for Microsoft despite its seemingly endless reserves of patience (and cash). But we’ll see how things pan out. One thing we can say for sure about the mobile industry is that anything can happen, and things can change insanely fast.

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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