Home > Development, Microsoft, Windows Phone 7 > The Developer’s Dilemma: WP7

The Developer’s Dilemma: WP7

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 has had developers in a dilemma for several months now. Previous versions of their mobile operating systems had, in no uncertain terms, been dire. Trust me, I owned a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone and its eventual death was hardly a tragedy.

The smartphone market had grown slowly for several years, with operating systems such as Symbian and PalmOS. This all changed when Apple launched its iPhone onto the market and thousands of applications – nattily entitled ‘apps’ to make them trendier – made it the premium phone to have, and therefore iOS the operating system to develop for.

In addition, gaining ground since 2005 had been Google’s Android, which finally in the fourth quarter of 2010 overtook Symbian as the world’s best-selling smartphone platform with approximately 33 million units shipped. Symbian still sits in second position with 31 million, and iOS with 16 million (source: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/01/31/oukin-uk-google-nokia-idUKTRE70U1YT20110131)

Windows Phone 7? A mere 2 million. Earlier that year, Microsoft had quickly dropped its ‘Kin’ range due to low sales. Why bother developing for a platform which could never fly, one merely stapled to its perch?

Last week, everything changed.

In September 2010 Nokia appointed a new CEO, a former Microsoft executive named Stephen Elop. Elop sent out a memo to all staff, quickly leaked to the media, in which he equated Nokia with a rig worker faced with staying on a burning platform or taking a leap into the unknown. On Friday 11th 2011, that ‘unknown’ was revealed to be another platform: Windows Phone 7.

Commentators fell into two camps: those that dismissed the combination of a dying platform (WP7) with a past-its-glory-days company (Nokia), and those that saw the potential for a partnership between the world’s top marketing company and one of the world’s top handset manufacturers.

Personally, I fall into the second camp. I believe that smartphone sales are pushed, not exclusively but significantly, by the availability of apps. Those apps aren’t available for WP7 yet, but that’s not because of the lack of developers with the potential to develop for the platform; more, there’s been nothing to indicate that it is worth a developer’s time in learning how to.

But with Nokia behind the operating system, it means that someone other that Microsoft believes in WP7. It means that a wide variety of handsets, at a range of prices – some high, some low – will be available. Those apps, written to a framework that only requires a little education over and above the knowledge that any competent C# or VB.Net developer already has, will work on these WP7 devices.

And you know what else? It means that there’ll finally be people out there to buy them.

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  1. February 22, 2011 at 11:18 am
  2. September 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm

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