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Is Windows Phone Poised for a Comeback?

No way, right?

Conventional wisdom is that Windows Phone is dying a lingering death, caught in a vicious cycle of low dev interest -> less app inventory -> less consumer demand -> less monetization potential -> low dev interest ... and so on.

A VisionMobile survey last year summed it up: "iOS owns the premium segment, Android almost everything else, Windows and the browser fight for the scraps." I reported on that and other related data in a blog post titled "The Last Gasp for Windows Phone."

That conventional wisdom was buoyed by the actions of Microsoft itself, which has been bending over backwards to help developers build cross-platform and native iOS and Android apps with its mobile dev tooling in its new era of open interoperability.

And research firms such as IDC are continually issuing statistics like this:

The Conventional Wisdom
[Click on image for larger view.] The Conventional Wisdom (source: IDC)

And the list goes on. Everybody seems to have a knife in the back of Windows Phone.

Well, maybe I -- along with many others -- have been guilty of exaggerating the death of Windows Phone.

Consider:

  • A new research report says Windows Phone developers earn more money on average than their iOS and Android counterparts.
  • The New York Police Department is rolling out some 36,000 Windows Phone units to cops.
  • New apps -- by some fairly big names -- are being rolled out.
  • New phones -- by some fairly big names -- are being rolled out.
  • People, and media, are talking more about Windows Phone recently.

What's going on here? Let's take a look.

The Survey
This is the "State of Mobile App Developers 2016" survey from InMobi, published a few weeks ago. Media outlets went nuts over its conclusion that "Windows Phone is the highest money-maker at $11.4k per month per app."
The Not-So-Conventional Wisdom
[Click on image for larger view.] The Not-So-Conventional Wisdom (source: InMobi)

That's right: The Bangalore, India, company, specializing in mobile app advertising, claimed its research shows that -- on average -- Windows Phone devs make more than those targeting other platforms.

Even InMobi seemed to express some skepticism on that one.

"Since Windows has only a niche audience, the app store is not as fragmented as the Android and iOS counterparts," the survey report stated. "Hence app discoverability is way easier and the competition among apps is much lesser. Thus developers on the Windows App Store seem to enjoy the highest monthly revenue."

I added the emphasis to the word "seem." Since when does a conclusion based on research use the qualifier "seem?"

Over at betanews.com, readers had a field day savaging InMobi's conclusion, as could be expected. I, along with many others, dismissed the notion out of hand. Yet some readers went against the grain, saying it could be possible, despite numerous caveats. For example, many of the survey respondents were from the Asia-Pacific region, which might skew the total outlook. And the survey cited "average" -- or mode -- income instead of median, which could skew results. Also, Microsoft doesn't release store dev income stats like other stores do.

Nevertheless, some readers at least entertained the notion that it might be true, with comments such as: "Just thinking that it is possible" and "I don't find it hard to believe that developers on Windows can make some good money."

There's no way I can vouch for the accuracy of the data or conclusions based on it, so take it for what it's worth.

36,000 Cops Can't Be Wrong
It was revealed just yesterday that, following a pilot program, the NYPD is rolling out 36,000 specialized Windows Phone units to its officers.

As reported on NY1.com, and many others, more than 25,000 cops already have the phones, scheduled to be rolled out to the full force of 36,000 within weeks.

"The NYPD says its specially customized smartphones have been a major success in fighting crime," NY1 reported.

This is a big, highly publicized win for Microsoft. So, maybe there were some political factors involved in that decision -- maybe not. There's no way to prove that, so take it for what it's worth.

Hey Look, New Windows Phone Apps!
A betanews.com reader noted that "only this week, Game Troopers released two Universal apps (games), and recently King added Papa Pear Saga to Windows store. Just to cite two famous dev/publishers. Ah, yeah... And NASCAR w10 app was updated."

Other people are also talking about new Windows Phone apps. WinBeta.com recently published an article on its favorite Windows 10 Mobile apps, listing Cast, Readit, Tweetium and, yes, even Angry Birds.

You can see a lot more activity in the store and new apps on sites such as PreApps and on the Microsoft store itself. Of course, there are still recent headlines about big apps like Tumblr disappearing from the platform, and a steady stream of articles chronicling the death of Windows phone, so take it for what it's worth.

Hey Look, New Windows Phone Devices!
There are recent reviews of devices such as the Lumia 950, signifying the shift from Windows Phone to Windows 10 Mobile. You'll also see reviews of the Blu Win HD LTE and speculative reports of new Windows 10 Mobile devices in the works from HTC.

HP even got in on the act, recently unveiling a new phone, Elite x3, targeting the corporate market.

Paul Thurrott detailed a bunch of other Windows 10 devices announced at the recent Mobile World Congress, including the Alcatel Fierce XL, Panasonic Toughpad FZ-F1, Trinity Nuans NEO and other devices, including tablets.

Of course, publications like PC World noted that the Elite x3 "is a flagship sailing into a dangerous Windows phone wasteland," so take these announcements for what they're worth.

Some Buzz Is Back
The NYPD win was big news today, spawning headlines like "Windows Phone Isn’t Dead As All NYPD Police Officers Will Use It" and "Windows Phone Still Alive, 36K NYPD Police Officers Will Use It."

You can also read recent articles like:

You can also read brand-new, in-depth analysis pieces like "What's the Deal with Microsoft's Mobile Strategy?" at our sister publication, Redmond Channel Partner.

Then again, you can also read articles like "Windows Phone Share Sinks to Just 1 Percent" in the same publication, so take all of these reports for what they're worth.

But hey, you're reading this, aren't you?

So for every point, there's a counterpoint. What's the real story? You tell me -- comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 03/01/2016 at 7:43 AM


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