Microsoft touts Windows Phone ecosystem stats, focuses on quality over quantity

One year after it first released developer tools for its nascent Windows phone 7 platform, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is touting the progress it has made. Although the company has a long way to go to catch up to its smartphone rivals, Microsoft said it is more focused on the quality of the platform than the number of applications it has. 

Microsoft said it now counts 36,000 registered developers for the platform, and that its developer tools have been downloaded 1.5 million times. The company also highlighted that it counts 11,500 applications, of which 7,500 are paid applications. Those figures are dwarfed by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS App Store and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Market storefronts.

"For us, from the beginning, we have always been focused on quality over quantity," Brandon Watson, Microsoft's senior director for Windows Phone, wrote in a company blog post. "We recognize the importance of getting great apps on our platform and not artificially inflating the number of actual apps available to customers by listing 'wallpapers' as a category, or perhaps allowing competitor's apps to run on the platform to increase 'tonnage.'"

The "tonnage" comment is a clear knock against Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) recent decision to allow Android apps to run on its forthcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet; RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie explained that the move would increase the "tonnage" of apps available for the PlayBook on launch.

Microsoft also said it is adding 1,200 developers per week, and that users download around 12 apps each month.

Windows Phone was commercially released last fall in the United States and a handful of other countries, and Microsoft plans to expand it to more countries this year. The company has not disclosed how many phones have been sold to end users so far.

Research firm IDC predicts that by 2015 Android will command 45.4 percent of the smartphone market, with Windows Phone taking second place, commanding 20.9 percent. Apple and RIM's positions are expected to remain relatively steady. The forecast assumes that a great deal of the Symbian market will be transferred to Windows Phone--a result of Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) new partnership with Microsoft, which was announced in February.

However, other analysts are skeptical of IDC's forecast. "I am not sure I can see that [Windows Phone moving to second place]," Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner, told Computerworld. "This is predicting that Nokia will resurge past Apple and Android. I just don't think Microsoft has shown that they can get there."

For more:
- see this Microsoft blog post
- see this CNet article
- see this Computerworld article

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