Windows Phone has a new app problem

23 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft soars on gaming, cloud computing gains.

Bad enough that when Intuit announced today that it was stopping development of its popular Mint personal finance app for Windows Phone, users went absolutely nuts. “There’s so much about the Windows Phone app that we love — and it’s hard for us to say goodbye to it — but we are confident that this change will help you get even more out of Mint,” says in an officical blog post announcing the discontinuation of support. In the company’s latest earnings report, issued Thursday, key segments of Microsoft’s business continued to decline in the quarter ended September. Licensing payments from PC-makers were down 6 per cent, a fifth straight quarter of declines, after the July launch of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system failed to spark an immediate revival in sales. In addition, Microsoft’s decision last summer to pare back its struggling Nokia division meant the company made less money from selling mobile phones.

That doesn’t work on Windows Phone. “Your developers are lazy and your management is incompetent if they thought screwing over the users was the right action,” says the top-voted comment on the blog post, in part. “Well I guess Mint doesn’t get my business then. But Microsoft reported strong performance in cloud computing, online advertising and subscriptions to online services — areas CEO Satya Nadella considers key to the company’s future.

Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone is a non-stop money making machine with the most lucrative customer base in the biz, and Google Android is the most popular operating system in the world. That means that the lion’s share of mobile app developers either ignore Windows Phone completely, or else end up neglecting it once they realize that the return on investment just isn’t worth it — just as Intuit found. PC makers like Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo are still hoping Windows 10 will boost PC sales this fall, when they’ll be offering more new models for sale.

But Thursday’s report showed Nadella’s increasing emphasis on other segments that promise more potential for growth. “I think he is realistic about the role of Windows,” said Gartner tech analyst David Smith. That’s where the future of the company will be.” Rather than charge individual PC owners to upgrade their older versions of Windows, for example, Microsoft has been offering free upgrades to Windows 10 — much the way Apple and Google provide free updates to their operating systems for Macs, iPhones and Android devices.

Microsoft hopes to make up the revenue from other sources, such as online advertising tied to its Bing search engine and new Edge browser, which comes with Windows 10. By getting Windows 10 onto more computers, he’s also hoping to persuade independent app-makers that there’s an audience for apps that work with Windows on PCs, phones, tablets and gaming consoles. Windows 10 is now running on 110 million devices, according to Microsoft, although it hasn’t said how many are new PCs and how many are older machines whose owners took advantage of the free upgrade. Analysts say that suggests a healthy interest in the new software, although International Data Corp. estimates overall PC sales still dropped 11 per cent in the third quarter.

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