Microsoft Touts Windows Phone 7 Marketplace Success

The WP7 app store is an unparalleled hit, Microsoft says, but it still won't say how many handsets it has sold.
Microsoft published a blog post on Thursday titled "A Year Later -- The Windows Phone 7 Numbers That Matter." The post is chock full of interesting stats and nuggets of information regarding the app store it has created in support of WP7 handsets. To be sure, what Microsoft and its developers have achieved is laudable. Let's take a look at the most interesting numbers.

The Windows Phone Developer Tools have been downloaded 1.5 million times, reported Microsoft. That's a lot of developers who've at least shown enough interest in WP7 to take a look at the basic tools needed to create for it. However, Microsoft points to the 36,000 developers who have actually ponied up the cash and joined its AppHub developers community. So, only 36,000 out of 1.5 million are actually serious about developing for WP7? If my math is correct, that means 2.4% stuck around. Microsoft notes, though, that it is signing up 1,200 new developers each week.

Microsoft says the true, official number of applications available in the Marketplace is 11,500. This is a bit lower than other numbers published about the Marketplace -- and Microsoft believes that is a good thing. Microsoft doesn't count "lite" versions of apps, apps that are submitted in multiple languages, and other fluffy, not-real apps. Microsoft agrees that this is a subjective way to look at things, but believes it is the right way.

"We've been very focused on the quality of the apps in the Marketplace since we first announced the platform one year ago, and we've done this by doing what we do best for developers; giving them great tools, tons of sample code, and unparalleled support. As a result, we've got apps; thousands of them. In fact our ecosystem generated 10,000 apps faster than anyone else, without padding the stats," Microsoft said.

Of the 11,500-ish applications in the Marketplace, Microsoft says 7,500 are paid. "It's great to have a platform full of apps, but most developers we speak to are concerned with making money. Based on the conversations we are having with some of our developers, many are telling us that they are seeing more revenue on our platform than competing platforms, despite the fact that we cannot yet match the sheer number of handsets being sold." That's impressive, considering the sheer volume of apps offered in the iPhone App Store and Android Market.

Just how many applications are being downloaded by WP7 device users? Microsoft says that users are downloading at a rate of 12 new apps per month per handset. Those who've had their devices for the last four months have probably stuffed their device with close to 50 apps by now.

The certification process from the time a developer submits an app to the time Microsoft approves it for distribution through the Marketplace takes, on average, 1.8 days. Microsoft says apps earn a "Pass" or a "Fail" and that it lets developers know the deal in days, not weeks or months. About 62% of all apps submitted pass on the first attempt.

The number that apparently matters most to Microsoft is the 40% of registered developers who've already submitted apps. It explains that "40% of the fully registered developer population has published an app or game, yet 60% have not yet published. That's incredibly exciting when you consider the amount of creativity which is still forthcoming." In other words, there are a ton of apps still on the way.

What's the takeaway from all this? According to Microsoft, quality apps matter more than quantity, and so does making money. It believes it has the right combination of committed developers, quality applications that users are willing to pay for, and the right developer tools to keep them coming.

Microsoft is sure to continue this conversation at its upcoming MIX conference, which is scheduled to kick off on April 12.

Now, about those handset sales . . .