Bad news for Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry device owners: Google still isn't prepared to support either platform with dedicated apps.
Speaking at this week's D11 conference, Sundar Pichai, Google's head of Android and Chrome, said that Google wouldn't reconsider its position until the operating systems could boast more users. "For platforms that don't have that many users at scale, we have great HTML5 apps. If they get more users, we will make apps," he said.
His comments highlight the real problem with the current state of the smartphone market. It doesn't matter how well made or powerful a handset is, or how simple and intuitive its user interface, if its owners don't have access to the latest and the best apps.
Contrast Google's attitude towards Microsoft and BlackBerry with its treatment of Apple. The iOS versions of Google's apps -- be it Gmail, Google Maps or YouTube -- are often far superior to the same apps it offers users of its own Android operating system because it desperately wants to court or even tempt away Apple device users.
BlackBerry has come up with a novel solution for attracting apps to its ecosystem: an Android emulator which essentially lets apps written for Google's OS work on BlackBerry devices. Meanwhile Microsoft attempted to build its own YouTube app for the Windows Phone and in doing so got into a fight with Google as the application stripped out advertising. As a result, Microsoft has been forced to pull the app from its Windows Phone app store.
Though entertaining for those who like to watch technology companies bicker, it is less than reassuring for BlackBerry and Windows Phone users. Though the popularity of both platforms is growing -- the latest market share figures show that both platforms have over 4% of global sales over the last quarter -- neither platform is currently growing quickly enough to force Google to rethink its position. All of which means that owners of these devices will have to continue accessing Gmail, YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps via their mobile web browsers.