The rise of Windows Phone hardware sales has been something of a damp squib, though more people are buying into the operating system, global market share is falling. However, this situation is reversed with regards to the Windows Phone app store, which has seen rather a fruitful year overall. In addition to reaching the milestone of more than 300,000 apps being available for download earlier in the year, many high profile firms are now making in-house apps for the operating system, giving users more choice than ever.
Indeed, the software story on Windows Phone continues to be successful, even in spite of the negative press that follows the system like a clinging hair. As revealed in a new report on the health of the app store by Microsoft, a number of milestones were reached in 2014, and if trends continue into 2015 then things look rosier than they have for a while.
The first point of interest concerns the adoption of Windows Phone 8.1. Released in early in the second half of 2014, this update brought a number of new features and tweaks to the operating system that allowed it to achieve parity with its competitors. Clearly consumers felt as though it offered them some tangible benefit, officially 65% of app store downloads now originate from devices running Windows Phone 8.1. Interestingly, those running 7.x devices still make up just under 5% of the market, which inclines one to wonder whether this figure will ever change.
What is also clear from the figures is that Microsoft’s strategy regarding budget devices is having a clear effect on the makeup of the operating system. 71% of downloads from the app store were from devices with under 1GB of RAM, with the lastingly popular Lumia 520 making up around 28% of these devices, continuing its domination as the most popular Windows Phone in existence. With the news that Microsoft may not be releasing any more high end devices until the second half of 2015, it seems as though this situation may continue for quite a while yet.
Another interesting, though perhaps inevitable trend, is the breakdown of the types of apps downloaded. Clearly Windows Phone owners value fun above all else, as even despite the relative paucity of games for the mobile OS, they made up a whopping 28% of all downloads. The closest successor category, Tools and Productivity, comes in at a mere 22% in comparison. Clearly there is a market for games, as such it can be assumed that this will have a knock on impact further in 2015 on the total make up of the app store, with this trend continuing.
Available in 191 markets around the world, Windows Phone has made successful inroads into a number of countries, offering high quality, low cost hardware and working with local OEMs to ensure maximum penetration. The diversity of this market is directly reflected in the language makeup of apps in the store, Unsurprisingly, being as the USA is the biggest source of downloads, English is the language of choice for most app developers, making up 25% of the total market. Following this, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, French, Mandarin and Russian make up the largest portions, showing the strength of the operating system in those markets.
In all, Windows Phone has had a strong 2014 with regards to software. The app store has grown, as has the number of customers. Development has become easier, cheaper and relatively universal within the Windows ecosystem, as such the time for app developers has arguably never been better. Hopefully this trend will continue well into 2015, continuing to be the success story that the operating system needs.
What is your favourite Windows Phone store app? Let us know in the comments below.