The insurmountable challenge that Windows Phone 8 and BB10 Face

“If you build it [they] will come”. That call, similar to the call heard in the classic movie “Field of Dreams” seems to be the call driving the creation of Windows Phone 8, and BB10, but unfortunately for the builders, they face the challenge of having to lure two different groups, and that is what will make gaining market share such a challenge.

Building a platform requires more than just a solid foundation. It requires apps for the restless user, and content to appease them further. The several year head start that both iOS and Android have been given has made it nearly impossible to match their selection of apps, collectively millions strong. I’ve seen multiple users turn away from Windows Phone 8 simply because the app selection doesn’t come close to that of either of its’ competitors. BB10, not coming until late next year, will face an even greater challenge.

In the quest to lure users, the different companies building these platforms have been working to lure another crowd: Developers. Without developers, no platform has a chance of competing with the massive app selection of the big two. Blackberry gave developers APIs, and Beta Phones, and SDKs nearly a year in advance in hopes of building a large enough selection by launch day in June to lure some customers. Windows has been using its’ past network of computer developers to search for phone developers.

The numbers show they’re struggling though. Developers know that because of the size of the platform, they can’t make nearly as much money as on iOS or Android, so very few developers are trying. If Microsoft and Blackberry don’t want to crash and burn, they need to take immediate action. Here’s the action plan I’d recommend to lure developers.

Step 1: Make all developer tools free. Nothing lures people like free stuff. Give away free test phones, and democratize the process. Make submitting to your app store free and easy, and you’ll see more developers port their apps.

Step 2: Increase Developer Revenue share. More money= More developers. iOS offers 70% revenue to developers, so offer 80%. Offer a bonus for accepted apps. For any app accepted into the store within the next year, offer a $300 bonus. It seems costly now, but having a larger selection of apps will pay off greatly in the long run.

These steps are radical. It means losing a lot of initial app revenue. You’ve got to spend money to make money though, and this is the only way I think they can possibly grow their app store large enough. If you’re a developer, What do you think?

Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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