Nokia exec frustrated with pace of Windows Phone software updates

Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) top executive in charge of application development expressed what appeared to be frustration with partner Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) slow pace of software innovation and updates for the Windows Phone platform.

The two companies are working as closely as ever, according to executives, but in an interview with the International Business Times, Bryan Biniak, Nokia's vice president and general manager of app development, said Microsoft needs to do more to change how it approaches the mobile market.

Biniak noted that Nokia has been releasing Lumia Windows Phones at an increasingly rapid pace, and indeed, the company has announced at least 10 new smartphones in the past 12 months. "We are releasing new devices frequently and for every new device, if there is an app that somebody cares about that's not there that's a missed opportunity of a sale," he said.

"We are trying to evolve the cultural thinking [at Microsoft] to say 'time is of the essence,'" he said. "Waiting until the end of your fiscal year when you need to close your targets, doesn't do us any good when I have phones to sell today."

Biniak noted that Nokia has a responsibility to "reinforce the message" that Microsoft has to speed up when it comes to mobile in order to create a stronger platform and application catalogue.

A recent report from The Verge, citing unnamed sources, said Microsoft is working on the so-called Windows Phone Blue update, expected in early 2014--and rumors say the major upgrade will bring a notification center, enhanced multitasking and improvements to built-in applications, among other improvements. That timeline for a major update has sparked enthusiast frustration with Microsoft, which Joe Belfiore, Microsoft corporate vice president and manager for Windows Phone Program Management, responded to in an online plea for patience.

Windows Phone captured 4 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in the second quarter, according to new data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, increasing from 2.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, while BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) plummeted from 4 percent to just 1.1 percent, indicating that its overhauled BlackBerry 10 OS is doing little to revive consumer enthusiasm for the platform.

Still, Biniak made it clear that more needs to be done to increase the number of apps in Microsoft's app store (currently around 165,000), to catch up to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS.

"To give you a reason to switch, I need to make sure the apps that you care about on your device are not only on our phones, but are better," he said. "I also need to provide you unique experiences that you can't get on your other devices."

"People rely on applications for their day-to-day life and if you don't have something which I use in my day-to-day life I'm not going to switch [operating systems] because I don't want to compromise the way I live my life just to switch to a phone," the Nokia executive added. "It's not just about the hardware, it's about the tools that are on the hardware. You can't sell a phone without the apps, you just can't."

Despite those remarks, Biniak said he doesn't believe there are any "major gaps" in the Windows Phone catalogue but admitted there are still "select applications that need to be there."

In a separate interview with Engadget, Biniak said that major apps will arrive on Windows Phone sooner rather than later.

For more:
- see this International Business Times article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Engadget article

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