There are many challenges that Microsoft must meet to make the Windows 7 phone a success. One of the most important is how popular it proves to be to developers. The early news seems encouraging for the company.
Yesterday, I posted a blog highlighting the explosive growth of mobile application downloads. Long story short, as they say, is that more people downloaded mobile applications in the first six months of 2010 than they did all last year.
The new Microsoft phone faces significant challenges, some of which I discussed last month. The obstacles include the fading importance of a close tie to Windows desktop productivity apps; the difficulty Microsoft may have finding companies to build the phone; the difficulty of creating an ecosystem; a potential corporate-versus-consumer identity crisis; whether Microsoft can pull all its disparate pieces together; whether enterprises will go for the phone and the "Kin hangover."
One key point concerned app developers. If enough people don't write for the platform, the project will run aground. It is as simple as that. The landscape seems challenging, since there are so many high-quality and exciting operating systems emerging. But the early news seems to be good, from Microsoft's perspective: Brandon Watson blogged at the Windows Phone 7 site that there already have been more than 300,000 downloads of the Windows Phone Developer Tools.
Not all of those folks will create applications, of course. But 300,000 still is an impressive number. InformationWeek blogger Ed Hansberry points out that if products are created by even 10 percent of those folks, the company will have a good backlog of applications in short order. To push those numbers further, Microsoft recently uploaded a tutorial for games and apps.
It's far from smooth sailing for Windows Phone 7. While the 300,000 number is impressive to an outsider, it cannot yet be called a success-especially before it is known how many developers actually write applications or games. They might just be curious. But the reaction-along with announcements on new phones that will use the OS-seems to suggest that Microsoft is generating positive momentum, at least in the early stages.