iOS Bulks Up with iOS 8

iOS 8 is a massive update to an already popular mobile operating system. Is it enough to bring Android power users back to iOS?

iOS Bulks Up with iOS 8

Windows Phone app problem

Over the weekend, I had a twitter conversation with the Wordboxer developers, trying to get them to port their game to Windows Phone. It brought to light an important point about the Windows Phone (and for that matter, Blackberry) app problem: most cool games and apps are being built by small shops or single developers who just don’t have the time to build and maintain more than one or maybe two versions of their app/game. I really hope the Windows Phone (and Windows 8) teams realize this and create ways and means to reach these folks and help them out with the education needed to have them port their apps.

I know with the addition to C++ and support for cross-platform game engines on both Windows Phone and Windows 8, things are easier in terms of porting, but the point is most devs look at market share numbers and shy away from the platform. Of course, the market share going up and reaching some level of respectability (10% in the US?) may automatically help, but until then, Microsoft has a tough problem on their hands. They have to increase sales of devices, they have to attract the big brands and they have to make sure the indie devs also consider Windows Phone, if not at launch, at least soon after.

Fingers are crossed.

Windows Phone app problem

Small devs really don’t have time to develop and maintain code for more than one or two platforms. Even though Windows Phone dev tools are arguably better than anything else out there, and porting is easier with Windows Phone 8, it comes down to resources. Here is a great example of that.

  1. @wordboxer My friends want me to play your game with them, but you don’t have your app on Windows Phone. Please help 😦
  2. I got an invite to play this game from someone on iOS. As usual, after not finding the game in the Windows Phone Store, I ping the developer twitter account.
  3. @TheRomit Unfortunately we have no plans to develop WordBoxer for Windows Phone…
  4. As is usually the case, developer says “no plans”. 😦
  5. @WordBoxer 😦 That’s terrible news. Can I make a desperate plea?
  6. Again as usual, I start begging. 🙂
  7. @WordBoxer porting to Windows Phone 8 is relatively easy. Looks like you already have Android, may as well attempt WP? 😦
  8. And then prodding.
  9. @TheRomit We’re not a big game company but just three friends who build WB in their spare time, and it takes lots of spare time already 😉
  10. Then …. reality. Devs don’t have the time.
  11. @WordBoxer Haha, ok. We need your help, that’s all. I am sure the folks at @wpdev won’t mind giving you a hand �� Cheers!
  12. More shameless begging.
  13. @TheRomit if you find us an investor down there in CA we might reconsider 😉
  14. More reality.
  15. @WordBoxer Investor, maybe. Dev/porting help? More than likely ��
  16. My side of the story: practicality.
  17. @TheRomit Help would of course be appreciated, but a way to make a living even more 😉
  18. Another dose of reality.
  19. @WordBoxer Windows Phone users definitely tend to pay more than Android. Hence, surprised that you ported to Android but not to WP.
  20. Hey, no harm in throwing some well-known facts to counter the harsh reality.
  21. @TheRomit 6 months ago when we started to port to Android the W8 marketshare was even less than the 5% now.
  22. At least they are aware of the 5% share. I see a slight opening 🙂
  23. @WordBoxer But Android users, despite the market share, tend to appreciate “free” whereas WP users tend to spend more.
  24. “It is not all about market share”, as the word on the street goes 🙂
  25. @lancewmccarthy Hey, I don’t know where these guys are located, but hope you can find help for them? See thread here…
  26. Seeing the opening, I ping a good twitter friend and a prolific developer and now a Nokia Developer Ambassador. They can help and in fact, they encourage developers to port their apps.
  27. @TheRomit I guess the only chance to have make a living from an app like ours lies in high numbers of downloads.
  28. Meanwhile, back to reality.
  29. @WordBoxer of course. I am not trying to say you are missing a large market. You would have built the app already if that were the case.
  30. Countered with more practicality/realism. It’s not a bad idea to go Android after iOS, to get the volume.
  31. @WordBoxer My point is that you will see more stickiness and willingness to pay with an average WP user than an Android user.
  32. ….but, Windows Phone users are more loyal to the platform and the early adopters tend to support developers who bring their stuff over from other platforms.
  33. @WordBoxer Also, it helps that number of devices and resolutions and OS versions are way more limited than Android.
  34. My turn to throw some reality into the mix. It is easier to develop/port to Windows Phone because testing involves a finite number of resolutions and device types. Especially if they focus only on Windows Phone 8.
  35. @WordBoxer (Hence, potentially an incremental effort may give you some valuable customers. Just a thought.)
  36. Yup, continuing the reality trend – if they can re-use much of their code then the incremental effort to bring the app to Windows Phone may not be too much, but the upside is huge.
  37. @TheRomit I see your point, same goes for iOS users compared to Android users I think.
  38. Full agreement here.
  39. @WordBoxer Oh, of course. WP users definitely more like iOS in that sense. Of course iOS user count >>>>>> WP ��
  40. More agreement.
  41. @TheRomit but to create a viral effect, which obviously did not occur yet ;-), we needed the masses to play WordBoxer. Hence Android 😉
  42. No arguments here.
  43. @WordBoxer Anyway, I have pinged @lancewmccarthy who may have some resources to help you. It would be *great* if it comes to WP
    #hope ��
  44. And now, bringing Lance into the convo.
  45. @WordBoxer Agreed. That is def a proper method, no questions. With WP, you will get so much more coverage too, since we yearn cool iOS apps.
  46. Agreement all around.
  47. @TheRomit @lancewmccarthy thanks for sharing your thoughts! We’ll look into it! Cheers
  48. Looks like these guys are open-minded developers.
  49. @WordBoxer @lancewmccarthy Thanks for listening and being open to my humble thoughts. Cheers, and all the best!
  50. Appreciation for hearing me out.
  51. @WordBoxer I can help knock down the financial barrier, the only thing you’d need to do is build it. When you’re ready, ping me. @TheRomit
  52. Here we go 🙂
  53. @lancewmccarthy @theromit Hi Lance, that sounds interesting 🙂 Could you please drop us a mail at to elaborate? Cheers
  54. Oh hey … could this twitter convo lead to something? Let’s hope so!

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Nokia’s Roller Coaster Fortnight

Nokia’s had a roller coaster fortnight. What matters though, is the Lumia 900 seems to be selling well. Is it enough to mark Nokia’s comeback? Time will tell.

Nokia’s Roller Coaster Fortnight

Windows 8 Tablet Success: It’s the Ecosystem, Stupid!

Microsoft has built the environment and the OS. Will OEMs and developers complete their bit and make Windows 8 tablets succeed?

Windows 8 Tablet Success: It’s the Ecosystem, Stupid!

Of USPs and ecosystem lock-ins

Manan Kakkar just blogged about how some of Microsoft’s iOS apps are a bad thing for Microsoft, and how the SkyDrive app for WP7 is useless to him. I’d like to use this blog post as a response to some of his remarks, criticisms and rants.

Kinectimals for iOS leaves no USP for the Microsoft ecosystem in the living room

I agree with Manan that there was an implicit promise of Windows Phone working very closely with Xbox and Windows in a way that iOS and Android could not and would not. At the same time, you have to remember – Microsoft is clearly pitching Xbox as a platform. If they want the Xbox to become a platform, they will need many more consoles out in homes. At the same time, the reality is that most Xbox users are most likely users of iOS devices of some shape or form.

Giving a taste of how a mobile device can work tightly with the Xbox gives Microsoft several wins:

  1. Exposes a Microsoft Studio game (in this case) to iOS users. If they don’t have an Xbox and they like the game, they may start thinking about it.
  2. Shows how Microsoft can integrate the mobile phone into its console. “With Windows Phone, the experience would be even tighter” could be the carrot.
  3. If the iOS user already has an Xbox, they may be tempted to look at other add-ons for the game, perhaps other games, other content, etc. In other words, fueling the increased use of the console, leading to potential increase in revenues related to Xbox content.

All of these create the vicious circle of creating a bigger market for the console as well as selling more content off the console. For a platform company, is there a better recipe?

Microsoft is at a very interesting stage in its history. For the first time since it became the most dominant company in the world, it is facing a world where its operating system (note: not “software”) may not be the most popular system. The world is moving towards smaller, lighter computing devices where so far, we have not seen Windows at all. Until we see Windows 8 succeed, we will continue with the argument that Microsoft is not a player in this new world where PCs will be outsold by smart devices which do not run Windows.

Why should I own a Windows Phone and not an iPhone, if the Xbox integration is going to be so tight with the iPhone?

First, I don’t think every game is going to be made available on iOS. Kinectimals is one of those games Microsoft may be toying with, to see if there is any sense in pursuing that market.

So from a user perspective, you can be assured that Windows Phone will continue to have Xbox LIVE games which won’t be on any other platforms, it will be the only platform with Xbox Achievements, and if there are games which get on iOS, Windows Phone will get them first for sure. It may not be a convincing argument, but frankly, if it were a convinving argument, Windows Phone would have sold way more than it has already.

Clearly, users don’t really care much about Xbox on their phones enough to keep it a strict exclusive.

You bring one game, you have to bring all

I am not sure why they should be forced to bring every game with such tight integration. They chose this game just like EA Games or Pop Cap Games chose to bring one or two games to Windows Phone. I don’t see any logical reason to bring every single title to iOS necessarily.

WP7 SkyDrive app is useless

This one confused me. Not because there is no basis for Manan’s point. WP7 after all has an extremely efficient concept of Hubs which in fact avoid the need to have separate apps for each service. In that regard, my SkyDrive pics/vids can, and are available in the Pictures Hub. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote can, and are available in the Office Hub. So I’d call the new SkyDrive app redundant in some ways, but not useless.

  • SkyDrive app provides a single place to see “your personal cloud”. What about generic files on SkyDrive you may have uploaded, like for example, an AutoCAD file? Where would you find that file on the current WP7? Nowhere, actually.
  • SkyDrive app allows creation/modification of folders and deletion of files. Given that Microsoft is pitching SkyDrive against the likes of Dropbox and, having a “drive” to access in one place would be better than spreading it all over the place.
  • SkyDrive app allows you to selectively share files/folders via links for read and read/write scenarios. Again, tying this back to using SkyDrive as a cloud storage option, it is easier to have all the stuff in one place.

Hubs are meant to make it easy to see and share stuff that you care about like Pictures, Music, Office docs, etc. The purpose of the SkyDrive app is not to just let you browse the stuff, but also allow it to be selectively shared with others.

Finally, I believe Manan has concluded that the app is useless because it does not serve two of his wishes (more than being really useless) – being able to save an attachment to SkyDrive, and being able to see files on other PCs and devices from SkyDrive. The former is a missing feature of the Mail application and perhaps of the OS itself (not exposing the file system) and the latter is a missing feature of SkyDrive the service. Neither is a shortcoming of the SkyDrive app.

By having an app, Microsoft can also rev it faster than the OS updates, much like Google’s apps on Android which are now de-coupled from the OS itself.

I feel bad having the need to write a long response but twitter’s 140 characters were just not enough to make my point.

Manan, cheers 🙂