Microsoft: Instagram, Vine apps show Windows Phone is 'turning a corner'

Apps for Instagram and Vine are now available on Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone platform, giving the OS a needed boost in the app market.

windows phone intagram

Instagram is now available on Windows Phone.

The apps, especially Instagram, have been missing from Windows Phone and long coveted by Microsoft. Nokia, whose handset business Microsoft is in the process of acquiring, pressured Instagram to add support for the platform. The arrival of the apps comes as Nokia reported selling a record 8.8 million Lumia Windows Phones in the third quarter. Microsoft's senior Windows Phone marketing manager, Casey McGee, told The Verge that "we do feel like we're turning a corner here."

The Windows Phone app catalogue now holds 190,000 apps, still a fraction of the nearly 1 million available for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, but more complete now with leading apps. McGee is out to change the perception this holiday season that Windows Phone is not a viable third alternative.

"We really want to take this opportunity to make sure people really see the breadth and depth of the offering, and frankly see if we can change some of that feeling that the app ecosystem is just holding us back, because frankly the data doesn't tell us that," McGee told The Verge.

The Instagram rollout was not without its bumps. Early reports on the app misreported the app's capabilities and said there was no way to take pictures from the app, which is not true. "Windows Phone users will be directed to their camera roll instead of a camera interface initially, where they have the option to either select an existing photo or take a new photo to apply filter to before sharing," Instagram explained.

Instagram for Windows Phone is technically a beta. Video capture and uploading, tagging photos, viewing geotagging and in-app camera capture are not yet present, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to ZDNet.

Yet Microsoft is trumpeting its progress in apps. According to TechCrunch, Microsoft said Windows Phone has seen 3 billion application downloads, an impressive number but still well below iOS' more than 60 billion aggregate downloads. Windows Phone has 10 million app transactions each day, or 300 million per month, which is up from 9 million per day in September, and 6.66 million per day in June. According to the company, 500 new Windows Phone applications are uploaded daily.

Microsoft is hoping the expansion of its application offerings will help increase its share of the market. According to research firm Gartner, Windows Phone captured 3.6 percent of the global smartphone market--still paltry compared to Android and iOS, but up from 2.3 percent in the year-ago period.

However, Windows Phone posted its highest market share to date of 9.2 percent across the five major European markets of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, and is now within one percentage point of iOS in Germany, according to a recent data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. 

"I think there's sort of this perception out there with some that Windows Phone customers are feeling something is missing or not having the experience that they want, and it's really quite the opposite," McGee said. "We're seeing positive reactions from customers, higher-rated apps, and that has a lot to do with the fact that we're catering to a different ecosystem."

For more:
- see this Windows Phone blog post
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this The Verge article
- see this separate The Verge article
- see this Engadget article
- see this ZDNet article

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