Fact Check: Microsoft’s Claims About App Numbers for Windows Phone

by windowsiso on October 30, 2012

Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore stands next to some of the top apps that will be available on Windows Phone 8. Photo: Alex Washburn/Wired

Apps have been a problem for Windows Phone since its launch in 2010. The lack of popular apps has been one of the main reasons people don’t want to buy or switch to a Windows Phone handset. The built-in software platform has gotten consistently positive reviews, but without a solid catalog of apps, the glowing, colorful light of Live Tiles can do only so much.

Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore said at a press event on Monday that Microsoft’s smartphone OS is finally catching up to iOS and Android app offerings. Specifically, Microsoft claims that Windows Phone 8 will have 46 out of the 50 top phone apps available in the App Store and Google Play.

That sounds pretty solid, especially given how few apps most people use on a regular basis. But among the four missing is Instagram (the others are Pinterest, Wells Fargo and Viber), which could be the sort of killer app that would prevent people from making the jump to Windows Phone.

“Instagram is certainly a popular one,” Belfiore said. “I hope and expect we’ll have Instagram at some point. In the meantime, if Instagram is your thing, then alright. We’re pretty happy that for almost everyone, coming to Windows Phone is a real possibility right now because we have almost all the apps covered.”

But how exactly did Microsoft arrive at its top-50 list? The company wouldn’t share its list with us, and Belfiore only explained that a Windows Phone team compiled the list based on download rates and usage on apps available for iPhone and Android smartphones. So we decided to do a bit of fact-checking, based on data from Distimo. Distimo collects information from publicly available sources, such as store rankings and ratings, and combines that with transactional data, such as downloads and revenues, to develop app leaderboards for each platform. We took the top 25 free and top 25 paid apps from Apple’s App Store and Google Play (as of Oct. 30, which probably accounts for the hurricane-related entries) and checked those against offerings from the Windows Phone Store.

Overall, things look promising. Of the 91 apps on the lists, Windows Phone already has or will have 32 of those apps. There are very similar alternatives for 16 apps, and six are not relevant or necessary to the platform. Thirty-seven apps are not available on Windows Phone, though the majority are new games or apps that are only available on one platform (iPhone or Android).

Disclaimer: Apple-built iPhone apps that are not available on any other platform are not included on our list. Also, this list is limited to top apps in the United States market. It’s likely that Microsoft used global data, which would also lead to some variations. Regardless, though, from the looks of this list, Microsoft isn’t being misleading with its app claims. Unless you can’t live without Instagram, Windows Phone probably has what you need on the app front.

Top Free Apps

YouTube (iPhone: 1, Android: built-in) — Available in WP
Facebook (iPhone: 45, Android: 1) — Available
Hurricane by American Red Cross (iPhone: 2, Android: N/A) — Not available
Flashlight (iPhone: 3, Android: 148) — Similar apps available
Weird But True (iPhone: 4, Android: N/A) — Not available
Facebook Messenger (iPhone: 70, Android: 4) — Built-in alternative available
Slendr (iPhone: 5, Android: N/A) — Not available
The Weather Channel (iPhone: 6, Android: 13) — Available
Skype (iPhone: 44, Android: 6) — Available
Stacheify (iPhone: 7, Android: N/A) — Not available
Netflix (iPhone: 43, Android: 7) — Available
Bubble Galaxy with Buddies (iPhone: 8, Android: N/A) — Not available
Zedge (iPhone: N/A, Android: 8) — Not available
Instagram (iPhone: 9, Android: 3) — Not available
Brightest Flashlight Free (iPhone: N/A, Android: 9) — Similar apps available
Contract Killer 2 (iPhone: 10, Android: 284) — Available
Bad Piggies (iPhone: N/A, Android: 10) — Coming soon
Flow Free (iPhone: 11, Android: 22) — Available
Angry Birds (iPhone: 107, Android: 11) — Available
Snapchat (iPhone: 12, Android: N/A) — Not available
Hill Climb Racing (iPhone: N/A, Android: 12) — Not available
CNN (iPhone: 13, Android: 280) — Available
Zombiewood (iPhone: 14, Android: N/A) — Not available
Tango Text (iPhone: 91, Android: 14) — Available
Fix-it Felix (iPhone: 15, Android: N/A) — Not available
Temple Run (iPhone: 101, Android: 15) — Coming soon
Flashlight* (iPhone: 16, Android: N/A) — Similar apps available
Zombie Frontier (iPhone: N/A, Android: 16) — Not available
Punch Quest (iPhone: 17, Android: N/A) — Not available
Adobe Reader (iPhone: 288, Android: 17) — Available
Twitter (iPhone: 18, Android: 5) — Available
Tiny Flashlight + LED (iPhone: N/A, Android: 18) — Similar apps available
Subway Surfers (iPhone: 19, Android: 35) — Not available
eBay (iPhone: 78, Android: 19) — Available
Bike Race Free (iPhone: 20, Android: 65) — Not available
Words With Friends Free (iPhone: 82, Android: 20) — Coming soon
Pic Stitch (iPhone: 21, Android: N/A) — Similar apps available
Go SMS Pro (iPhone: N/A, Android: 21) — Not available
Random Heroes (iPhone: 22, Android: N/A) — Not available
Starbucks (iPhone: 23, Android: 305) — Available
Adobe Air (iPhone: N/A, Android: 23) — Not available
iHurricane HD (iPhone: 24, Android: N/A) — Not available
iHeartRadio (iPhone: 35, Android: 24) — Available
Pandora Radio (iPhone: 25, Android: 2) — Coming soon
Yahoo! Mail (iPhone: N/A, Android: 25) — Not necessary
Pinterest (iPhone: 26, Android: 26) — Not available

Top Paid Apps

Bad Piggies (iPhone: 1, Android: on free list) — Coming soon
SwiftKey 3 Keyboard (iPhone: N/A, Android: 1) — Not available
Grand Theft Auto 3 (iPhone: 2, Android: 4) — Not available
Titanium Backup Pro (iPhone: N/A, Android: 2) — Not relevant
WhatsApp Messenger (iPhone: 3, Android: 55) — Available
Beautiful Widgets (iPhone: N/A, Android: 3) — Not relevant
Plague Inc. (iPhone: 4, Android: 52) — Not available
Road Explorer (iPhone: N/A, Android: 4) — Not available
Minecraft (iPhone: 5, Android: 43) — Not available
Nova Launcher Prime (iPhone: N/A, Android: 5) — Not relevant
Plants vs. Zombies (iPhone: 6, Android: 102) — Available
Camera Zoom FX (iPhone: N/A, Android: 6) — Similar apps available
Living Earth (iPhone: 7, Android: N/A) — Not available
ROM Manager (iPhone: N/A, Android: 7) — Not relevant
He-Man (iPhone: 8, Android: N/A) — Not available
TuneIn Radio (iPhone: 61, Android: 8) — Available
Arms Cartel Global (iPhone: 9, Android: N/A) — Not available
Poweramp (iPhone: N/A, Android: 9) — Similar apps available
Tetris (iPhone: 10, Android: 174) — Available
Slender-Man (iPhone: 11, Android: N/A) — Not available
Fruit Ninja (iPhone: 12, Android: 48) — Available
Tapatalk Forum (iPhone: 250, Android: 12) — Not available
Angry Birds Space (iPhone: 13, Android: 15) — Coming soon
ROM Toolbox Pro (iPhone: N/A, Android: 13) — Not relevant
Wipeout (iPhone: 14, Android: N/A) — Available
Smart Tools (iPhone: N/A, Android: 14) — Similar apps available
NOAA Hi-Def Radar (iPhone: 15, Android: N/A) — Not available
Angry Birds Seasons (iPhone: 16, Android: N/A) — Not available
Camera+ (iPhone: 17, Android: N/A) — Similar apps available
Where’s My Water? (iPhone: 18, Android: 17) — Coming soon
Soundhound (iPhone: 193, Android: 18) — Available
Monopoly (iPhone: 19, Android: 124) — Available
Paper Camera (iPhone: N/A, Android: 19) — Similar apps available
Bejeweled (iPhone: 20, Android: N/A) — Available
The Bard’s Tale (iPhone: N/A, Android: 20) — Not available
Sonic Jump (iPhone: 21, Android: N/A) — Not available
WeatherBug Elite (iPhone: 144, Android: 21) — Available
Toca Tailor (iPhone: 22, Android: N/A) — Not available
SetCPU for Root Users (iPhone: N/A, Android: 22) — Not relevant
Languages (iPhone: 23, Android: N/A) — Not available
Cut the Rope (iPhone: 26, Android: 23) — Coming soon
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (iPhone: 24, Android: N/A) — Not available
OfficeSuite Pro 6 (iPhone: N/A, Android: 24) — Built-in alternative available
MyCalendar Mobile (iPhone: 25, Android: N/A) — Similar apps available
Draw Something (iPhone: 324, Android: 25) — Coming soon


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