It has been over 6 since months since Microsoft held its Windows 8 BUILD event for ecosystem partners. These partners included application developers, OEMs, ODMs, and hardware partners. At BUILD, Microsoft officially launched its application development tool, Visual Studio 11 Express Betaand provided the first instructions on how to best develop apps for the new Metro user interface (UI). Microsoft also handed out tablets to the developers so they could start building applications.
Over six months later, 99 apps are available in App Store. Should the ecosystem look at that as a success, failure, or something else? The answer to that question depends on the measuring stick you use.
I will look at measuring sticks from the iPad and Android for tablets to help discern this. Let’s take a look first at the Windows 8 Store.
Windows 8 Store
The Windows 8 Store is where consumers will buy Metro apps for the new operating system. Metro is designed first for tablet and touch, but can also be used with a traditional keyboard and mouse. There are currently 99 apps in the store, 14 of them built by Microsoft. Metro apps adopt a “content-first” approach, use bold imagery and lots and lotsof white space. Many of the apps are bold and gorgeous. If you get the chance, check out iCookbook and USA Today as they’re great example of Metro at its finest.
On the flip side, there are only 99 apps, no social media apps, no productivity apps and no commercial video service apps like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Instant Video. Six months into the development cycle, how should we view the apps and the store? Let’s first look at the iPad.
iPad as Measuring Stick
The iPad was announced on January 27, 2010 and was available approximately three months later on April 2010. According to a MarketWatch story near launch, Apple said “well over 1,000 apps (would) be available for the device” at launch. As I gave a first looks here, the iPad was pre-installed to apps like Mail, Calendar, Safari browser and many more apps.
According to Distimo, as of February 2012, there were 180,000 iPad applications with about 40% “iPad only” and the remaining “universal applications.”
From start to where iPad is today is indeed impressive. Now onto Android for tablets.
Android Tablet as Measuring Stick
Google first showed the world Honeycomb, the Android operating system for tablets, at the D: Get Into Mobile Conference in December, 2010. Motorola then announced the XOOM tablet at CES 2011, winning “Best of Show” awards. About two months later in late February the Xoom shipped to consumers and I did a “first looks” here. It was hard to exactly say how many apps were specifically for tablets, but what became clear is that it wasn’t more than 50. A few months later, David Pogue from the New York Times reportedthat Distimo had counted, as of May, 2011, 174 Android tablet-optimized apps.
As of March 2012, Distimo is reporting that “roughly 32,000 Android applications are available for the device stores for tablets.” Interestingly, Android tablet started off excruciatingly slow, but is relatively close to where the iPad was 14 months from launch.