Developers are killing Windows Phone
No matter how much Windows Phone has progressed, it feels like it will always be held back by its app store. Lots of nice titles continue to be unavailable, despite claims of the so-called "app-gap" closing. It is not, clearly. When top developers eventually release their apps on the platform, they usually come long after their Android and iOS counterparts and are rarely updated. Let's not even talk about feature parity, which is a huge issue on its own. Of course, that is if those top developers can be convinced to support Windows Phone in the first place, which isn't always the case. It's not an easy thing to do.
Windows Phone Store is also not helped by the developers who decide to abandon or leave the platform altogether. The latest blow is dealt by Chase Bank, which has supported Windows Phone for more than two years. It just announced that it will take the latter route, packing its bags and leaving the platform in just a few days.
Starting January 26, Chase Bank will pull its Chase Mobile app from Windows Phone Store. When a developer doesn't want to support the platform anymore, the app is usually abandoned, not pulled. But, likely to avoid any issues down the road, Chase Bank is taking the more radical approach.
The reason why Chase Mobile will vanish from Windows Phone Store as of next Monday is that only a "few customers" are using it. And it is not because Chase Mobile is a crap app, no. It has a four-star rating in Store, which proves that those who do use the offering are pleased with it.
What Chase Bank is suggesting is that there aren't enough of its customers using Windows Phone to justify the resources that are required to continue development. Looking at ComScore's latest data, Windows Phone's market share in US is 3.4 percent, which certainly adds some credence to Chase Bank's claim.
Chase Bank's Windows Phone customers will have to get familiar with their browsers after the app will be pulled, as this will be the only option they have to access their accounts. Is it a big deal? Well, that depends on the user, but it is certainly not a step forward.
Now Chase Bank is just one Windows Phone developer, but is not the only one to have hurt the platform's credibility from within. Tumblr comes to mind as another good example. The app launched around the same time as Chase Mobile, but it was abandoned just months after (its latest update is from September 9, 2013).
Other developers are affecting Windows Phone not by deciding against supporting the platform, but by blocking good third-party apps for one reason or another. One such example is Snapchat, which asked Microsoft to remove all clients from Windows Phone Store. Microsoft complied days before Christmas.
Affected users have since started to support this petition to bring Snapchat to Windows Phone. Will it help? Well, we can only hope it does, but spamming Snapchat, as the creator of the petition suggests, is certainly not going to further the cause, nor will the the fact that the petition hasn't reached its goal of just 20,000 supporters.
Sure, there are some awesome third-party apps or alternatives, which can successfully fill-in for the real deal. But there aren't enough to close all the priority gaps. And there are cases when such offerings are simply not an option, as you can see. Also in the case of, say, banking apps no sane person would trust a third-party developer with their financials.
There is little that Microsoft can do to change things for the better. It has already done great things with Windows Phone 8.1, so users cannot complain anymore that, say, the operating system doesn't have a proper way to view notifications, and developers cannot complain that the operating system doesn't support a certain feature their app requires (well, there may be some cases here and there, but that's another matter). Windows 10 also doesn't seem to be the answer. Is there any hope left?