Apps, Apps, and More Apps

Posted on December 19, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile, Windows 10, Windows Phones with 0

Apps, Apps, and More Apps

Generally speaking, I riff on what others write in Short Takes and, more recently, in Thurrott Daily. But a CNN clickbait article—“Microsoft’s biggest problem, in a single chart”—is important enough to warrant a more detailed analysis. Because it gets as much wrong as it does right.

The premise of this article is that the 10 most-used apps of the year in the U.S. were all made by three companies — Facebook, Google, and Apple.

Notably absent is Microsoft, one of the largest software makers in the world by revenue. Lists like this paint a very clear picture of what people need and want their phones to do — and it’s not the stuff that Microsoft builds.

Or maybe the premise of this article is that Windows phone has failed. Since it then mentions the following:

Too few people have Windows phones for developers to care about making apps for the platform, and customers don’t want to buy Windows phones because they don’t have enough apps.

So here’s the original list, which is from Nielsen:


What does this really show? And what does it really say about Windows phone/Windows 10?

Absolutely nothing, actually. Here’s why.

First, two of the top three apps—Facebook and Facebook Messenger—are in fact available in native form on Windows 10/Windows phone. As is Instagram, the number 8 app on the list.

YouTube, the number two app, is easily accessible on Windows 10/Windows phone via third party apps and the web.

As for the remainder of the top apps, the Windows 10/Windows phone equivalent of each is present on Microsoft’s platform: Instead of Google Search (#4), we have Cortana. Instead of Google Play (#5), we have Windows Store. Google Maps (#6) and Apple Maps (#10)? We have Windows Maps (and HERE Maps/Drive). Gmail is #7, but we have Outlook Mobile, which is actually superior, even on Android and iOS. And Apple Music (#9)? We have Groove Music, and it doesn’t even require a subscription.

This list—and the CNN article—thus do not highlight the real information provided by this list. Which is:

That Windows 10/Windows phone apps do not make the top 10 list for all mobile apps is no surprise, given Windows phone’s 1.7 percent market share. But this is not really an issue if the ten most common things that people do on smart phones work just fine on Windows. And they do.

Windows 10/Windows phone are not served well by that one speciality app—a banking or mobile payments app, perhaps, a parking or shopping app, or whatever. And that is an issue, one that will never be reflected by a bullshit popularity chart like this. You cannot condense “Microsoft’s biggest problem” into “a single chart,” sorry. Reality is more nuanced than that.

And why isn’t CNN complaining that Apple’s iTunes Store and App Store are not in the top 10? Doesn’t that suggest some weakness with the iPhone? Aren’t Apple’s over-zealous users over-spending on new content every single day? How does this chart not display “Apple’s biggest problem, in a single chart”? Apps like Apple Music and Apple Maps are only popular because those users are lemmings. Thatsounds like a problem to me.

Oh, for the clickbait headline. It can drive users to your site. But if there’s no real meat there, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. As CNN has today.