Windows Phone users do crave popular apps, no matter what apologists, fanboys say
Whenever a pundit brings up apps as an irrefutable argument for Windows Phone weaknesses, platform fanboys and apologists quickly point out they could not care less about whatever the Store is then lacking. They may also say that there already are good alternatives available, and major titles -- that are popular on Android and iOS -- are not really that important, when you have live tiles to look at all day. Basically, such an argument is, therefore, a pathetic excuse to bash their beloved platform.
Instagram? "No, thanks, that is for hipsters". Candy Crush? "I do not need that lame game on my Windows Phone as there are better ones available". "Oh, and you are an iPhone/Android fanboy for mentioning this!". You get the gist. But after we get off the comments train, we see that whenever Windows Phone gets a popular app, it quickly rises to the top of the Store. Yes, these users, of which I am proud to be one, do crave major titles, just like everyone else.
Facebook launched Facebook Messenger last week on the platform and, even though it may be lacking certain features that Android and iOS users get, the app is, at the time of writing this story, the second-most popular free title in the US Store, and the best performer in "New+Rising". Its ranking may vary depending on the region, but it is shaping up to be one of the biggest app wins for Windows Phone this year.
You may be wondering why that is the case, when Windows Phone already integrates Facebook Messenger in the Messaging and Microsoft-baked Facebook apps. Is that not good enough?
Having a dedicated tool for the job is much better than going through hoops to get to what you want. It can also offer many more features, and the latest ones without having to wait for an OS update, and a more tailored user experience for its purpose, and that is what Facebook Messenger does very well.
If we look at Instagram in the same regional app store, we can see it is still at the top of the free apps list more than three months after its arrival. Based off every story I have read until Instagram launched, its popularity should come as a huge, huge shock to everyone, because, well, apologists and fanboys bashed those who ever said it is important and users want it.
Yes, Instagram too has been enjoying its fair share of knock-offs and good third-party clients on Windows Phone, but it was not until the real deal came that the service took off and its real importance to platform users became apparent. More benefits will be visible in the long run.
But these are really major titles on all platforms which offer them. Waze, on the other hand, is more of a niche app in comparison. It offers crowdsourced navigation information, and does not have as many users as either of the other two. Yet Waze, which launched alongside Instagram, is in the top free navigation apps in the US Store, right after Nokia's powerful HERE suite that is, in part, offered on every Lumia Windows Phone out-of-the-box. Also, there have been no popular third-party Waze clients in Store, so its success story is more impressive than that of Facebook Messenger or Instagram, which already enjoyed some traction and appeal before their official arrival.
Right after Facebook Messenger, in the New+Rising category in the US Windows Phone Store, is CloudSix for Dropbox. This is a great third-party Dropbox client, developed by the man who is also responsible for the best third-party Instagram and Vine clients on the platform. I am willing to bet if Dropbox officially launches on Windows Phone it will quickly become one of the most popular apps in Store, as the service is hugely popular on rival platforms and has seen great success so far.
Fanboys and apologists are a vocal bunch who will quickly try to spin any story that suggests apps are instrumental to Windows Phone's success, just as their Android and iOS counterparts will do the same when it comes to the weaknesses of their favorite platforms. Looking only at those biased responses that spread FUD, and placing any faith into their relevance, gives us a heavily skewed perspective. We might as well live in the dark ages.
Outside of the comments section, the bulk of Windows Phone users reveal the truth about how much apps matter to them, and how much they need popular titles to finally arrive and make them feel rewarded by their choice of smartphone. Simply look at what happens with the Store whenever we get some tasty crumbs in order to see the real picture.