Windows Mobile 6.5 phones have started hitting the shelves, and with that, comes the arrival of Windows Marketplace which is up and running with a large selection of 34 apps.
To be fair, Windows Marketplace wasn’t officially scheduled to launch until tomorrow, so maybe there’s a boatload of apps in the queue just waiting for the green light.
Microsoft realizes that catching up to Apple’s 85,000 strong app library is no easy task, and over the past few weeks, its attempted to woo developers to its platform by offering prizes to developers who submit top-notch applications. They event went so far as to publish a blog post attempting to illustrate just how easy it is for developers to port their iPhone apps over to the Windows Mobile platform.
Microsoft’s challenge, though, is that its fighting a battle on too many fronts and its app store strategy appears to be all over the place.
There’s Windows Mobile 6.5, the Zune HD (which is rumored to be getting its own app store), and of course, the planned release of Windows Mobile 7, which will support features such as multi-touch that aren’t currently available on Windows Mobile 6.5 devices. So yeah, there’s a lot of differentiated software and hardware configurations emanating from Redmond, and keeping developer interest at optimal levels will be a challenge all by itself.
In the end, Microsoft will be hard pressed not to end up with a consortium of similar app stores that will essentially be competing with each others for customers.