Though Windows Phone 7 has only been available to consumers for a little over four months, developer tools for the platform have been available for more than a year. To celebrate the first full year of Windows Phone development, Microsoft's Brandon Watson has revealed a list of statistics that loosely approximate the size and scope of the platform's third-party developer community.
There is some ambiguity to the size of the Windows Phone developer community. Watson says there are 36,000 paid members of the AppHub community, with 1,200 new developers joining every week. Unfortunately, this isn't exactly the most cut-and-dry explanation of interest in the Windows Phone platform, because AppHub also includes Xbox Live games developers.
Similarly, Watson pointed out that the Windows Phone Developer tools have been downloaded over 1.5 million times, which does paint an impressive picture of developer interest. Of course, there are a lot of reasons to download multiple versions of the tools, and this number does not necessarily translate into the production of apps. Besides, according to Microsoft, just about 40% of registered developers have published an application in the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Figures related to the size of the Windows Phone Marketplace are much more straightforward, and can easily be compared to the numbers from Android, iOS, and BlackBerry.
Though the Windows Mobile Marketplace launched in late 2009, Windows Phone 7 apps did not begin to arrive until more than a year later, after the developer tools for the platform were released. Now, one year after those tools were made available, there are 11,500 apps accessible for download. Apple's popular app store launched in 2008 with 800 apps, and in one year that number grew to 50,000. Google's Android Market launched with only around 50 apps, but by the end of its first year, that total had grown over 10,000.
The big problem with the Android Market early on was that the overwhelming majority of apps were free; this caused some doubt among analysts and industry watchers about the platform's commercial viability. While this doubt has all but vanished for Android, Microsoft wants to be clear that Windows Phone is a viable route for commercial developers, showing that 7,500 of the apps are for pay, and 1,100 are funded by in-app advertisement. Furthermore, 44% of all apps include a free trial version.
In just under two weeks, Microsoft's MIX11 conference will be taking place, and a "forthcoming release" is expected to hit the WIndows Phone 7 platform at that time.