Microsoft seems to have a new mantra: When all else fails, shoot for a bigger audience.
All of Microsoft’s top-downloaded paid applications for its newest Windows Phone 7 mobile devices are games — much like other mobile operating systems — compared to just one for its older Windows Mobile operating system, according to a report by Distimo.
Microsoft is running a pretty well-known and reliable play to reclaim its share in the mobile operating system space. More than half of Microsoft’s applications on its Windows Phone 7 operating system are now less than $2, compared to less than 40 percent of apps on its old Windows Mobile operating system. That’s in line with other app stores. Its app store has grown to around 3,000 applications in just over a month. That’s compared to only 1,350 applications available for Windows Mobile after the operating system has been out for a year.
It’s a marked shift in Microsoft’s strategy, since its presence in the enterprise mobile operating system space has diminished. Windows Phone 7 finally brought Microsoft’s mobile operating systems into an age that is dominated by apps. The phone is geared much more toward typical consumers, like the iPhone and many phones running on Google’s Android operating system.
A lot of Microsoft’s refocus may have to do with Research in Motion (RIM)’s presence as a smartphone maker of choice for the enterprise. RIM currently dominates the enterprise mobile phone market with around 46 million customers. Apple is also charging into the enterprise space. Both of these operating systems are, in their own ways, superior to the classic Windows Mobile operating system.
That leaves little room for operating systems that are late to the party. Windows Phone 7 came out about a month ago and has since scrambled to catch up with the rest of the smartphone market. The mobile operating system has already picked up 15,000 developers in a short period of time and is growing quickly. But Apple and RIM already have the jump on Windows Phone 7. They’ve been playing in a market dominated by apps for a few years now.
That isn’t to say Microsoft can’t reclaim its presence in the enterprise space. Microsoft is able to integrate its Office applications into its mobile interface. The closest thing to that on other mobile operating systems is Documents to Go by DataViz. But that company was acquired by Research in Motion, which quickly killed support for the WebOS mobile operating system — so the future of that application on competing platforms is unclear.
VB’s research team is studying mobile user acquisition... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.