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Windows Phones still struggling to attract apps

gadgets Updated: May 16, 2013 11:38 IST
Nokia Lumia


Nokia's head of smartphone marketing admits that gaps in the app selection are customers' main complaints.

With the launch of its latest flagship device, the Lumia 925, Nokia and Microsoft are continuing to prove that they can compete directly with anything Samsung, Apple or BlackBerry can build in terms of quality, processor speed and performance; however, there is still one area in which the Windows Phone 8 platform, and therefore all device manufacturers using the system, from Nokia to ZTE and HTC cannot match the competition, and that's apps.

So much so that despite Microsoft's best efforts to court the world's biggest tech companies and most respected developers, getting blue-chip apps on its mobile phone platform is still an uphill struggle. At Monday's Nokia Lumia 925 launch in London, Nokia's Global Head of Smartphone marketing, Vesa Jutila, revealed to Engadget that "the biggest complaint is that customers are missing the apps they want," when asked about the relative poverty of its offerings compared with Apple's App Store and Google Play. However, Jutila also claimed that Microsoft and Nokia are working to address the issue.

The New Nokia mobile phone, the Lumia 925 is displayed during its launch in London. Nokia launched a new version of its flagship smartphone, featuring an upraged camera in the more streamlined and lighter handset. Photo: AFP / Andrew Cowie

When the Windows Phone 8 platform launched, Google made it very clear that it had no intentions of building apps for its operating system. Six months after the first Windows Phone 8 devices hit the shelves, the only way to access Google Maps, Google Search or Gmail is via the browser. However, the most notable absence, especially from a range of phones that offer incredible photographic capabilities, is a native Instagram app.

The New Nokia mobile phone, the Lumia 925 is displayed during its launch in London. Photo: AFP / Andrew Cowie

A greater volume of handsets in circulation will help in this respect: the more consumers that buy a Windows smartphone, the more companies will build apps for it.

However, at the moment it's a catch-22 situation -- potential customers might be put off making the change to Windows because of the lack of certain apps, and unless more consumers buy Windows phones, the number of blue-chip apps in its store is very unlikely to increase.

Stefan Pannenbecker, Head of Nokia Product Design speaks during the launch of the New Nokia mobile phone, the Lumia 925 in London. Photo: AFP / Andrew Cowie

According to the latest figures from Gartner, published Tuesday, consumers bought a total of 5.98 million Windows Phone handsets in the first quarter of 2013, (5.1 million of which were Nokia Lumia phones), which represents a 100 percent increase on the last quarter of 2012. Over the same period, 156.1 million Android handsets were sold (74.4% of the global market) and 38.3 million iPhones, giving the premium Apple smartphone an 18.2 percent global share, compared with Microsoft's 2.9 percent.

A worker poses with the new Nokia Lumia 925 at its launch in London. Photo: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

Still, there is some good news for Nokia Lumia handset owners. The Nokia Smart Camera suite of image effects that were demonstrated alongside the launch of its new European flagship phone, the Lumia 925, will be coming to all existing Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 handsets as part of a sofwarre update. Called the "Nokia Lumia Update" it will start rolling out to handsets in July.

Nokia executive vice president of smart devices Jo Harlow poses with the new Nokia Lumia 925 at its launch in London. Reuters/Luke MacGregor