On the 5th, The Next Web accurately described the current state of affairs between Google and Microsoft as ‘shenanigans’. What seems to be an ongoing spat between the two companies reared its head in the last few days as Google blocked Windows Phones from using maps.google.com. On top of this, Microsoft has repeatedly claimed that Google is blocking them from developing a YouTube app with integration similar to that of Facebook and Twitter in the various hubs in Windows Phone. Also, Google announced that they have ‘no plans’ to develop anything themselves for Windows 8 or Windows Phone.
Microsoft has been lobbying the FTC and others for stronger punishments for Google, and they claimed Google was in ‘breach of antitrust’ again. Microsoft have made their own campaigns against Google as well, and have promoted Bing over Google Search using the ‘Scroogled’ moniker. So far we have established there is a lot going on here and a lot of links for you to click on! There’s more: supporters and fan-boys from both sides have battled it out across the web and in the comments section of the articles. Some ridicule the new Microsoft operating systems, whilst others say Google is ‘evil’ and ‘scared of competition’.
Well, another turn of events has occurred today as Google has decided to remove the redirect on maps.google.com once they have worked on it. I will not go into the story of events and reasons that Google, Microsoft and users completely disagree on, but Google says they are ‘working to remove the re-direct’. Although note that Google’s policy of not providing native apps for the platform stays in place.
Head over to the source link to read the official statement and other titbits. Scroll on down for an in-depth view on the hubbub.
There is the argument that a small user base for the new OS’s means that it is not worth Google’s time to develop apps for them. However, Windows 8 reached 40 million licenses sold on the 26th of October 2012, and it is ‘outpacing Windows 7’ in terms of upgrades. So I don’t think so. On the other hand, we will see some more specific information about Windows Phone later to come, but for the time being we have to settle with Steve Ballmer telling us that after Windows Phone 8 launched they were selling 4x as many handsets as they did that time last year. Along with the extrapolated advertising inventory, which tells us that Windows Phone sales by volume of handsets, not percentage of market share, is increasing, and perhaps if you want to believe Redmond, even up to a fourfold increase occurred, we get a pretty good idea that even if sales are not on the same scale of that of IOS and Android phones, they are at least ‘good’. The user base has transformed from a pond into a sea, and it is getting larger by the minute.
The more savvy readers out there will point out that user base does not necessarily equate to more users of the Windows Store. Despite that being true, the two are obviously correlated. The more users you have, the more who will have access to the store. The more that access the store, the more downloads can occur. There is also factual proof of the growth of the Windows Store. Apparently, 415 Windows 8 apps are added every day. It passed 35,000 apps last December. Not to mention the fact that Distimo found that the Windows 8 Store has 3x as many downloads as Apple’s Mac Store! The Windows Phone Store has equally encouraging news, with it reaching 150,000 apps last December. Developers can now access 191 markets with their apps and the ability to use carrier billing is increasing with ‘6 new carriers added in the last 3 weeks alone’.
One mistake that people keep on making is that they are looking to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8’s market share as a way of identifying growth in demand, adoption and/or sales. Well, you are not going to find much growth there! But it’s okay as you would be wrong to look at market share figures. Instead, you have to look at sales numbers alone. Here’s why: you cannot use market share as a good measure of demand for a product, let alone an accurate measure of sales. Market share does not just indicate sales of a product, it is measured as a percentage, and so the number allocated to Windows Phone sales will not be solely down to the sales of Windows Phone devices. For example, if Android has a blow-out of a festive season, everyone else’s market share will drop. So, instead of using market share, look at sales numbers or the next best thing. (I can’t seem to repeat that enough!)
In fact, even if you do look at market share, in parts of the world Windows Phone is growing. To name some: Italy, Russia, France, and the UK.
Back to the original point about Google services and the lack of them on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8: some look at the fact that IOS has a host of Google apps whereas Windows Phone basically has none, and they consider it a disadvantage. Unless you are a die hard Google fan (in which case you should be using Android not IOS) or you are really stubborn, it is a complete non-issue.
The reason why Microsoft does not need Google’s apps, and partly why Google has not made any, is because Microsoft has got alternatives to all of the ones people care about bar YouTube. That is right people, you can live without them! Apple on the other hand had none whatsoever. They did not have a strong ecosystem of features and so Google stepped in and proliferated greatly from the situation. Windows Phone is not in trouble because of Google ignoring it. However, if Google suddenly decided to pull its apps from IOS and never speak about it again, Apple would take a heavy blow. Recently Apple have been trying to fill the gap, and their own mapping solution is an example of that, despite it not going quite to plan.
If you still insist on using Google services then the situation is still fine. For Gmail, the standard mail client does a fantastic job at the moment. For Google Maps, there are a number of very good third party options including ‘gMaps‘ and ‘Google Maps‘. For Google Voice, there are also quality third party options including ‘GoVoice‘ and ‘Metro Talk‘. You can access YouTube from the very capable browser (same goes for most other services), but if there was ever an example of a perfect third party app it would be ‘Metrotube‘.
If like me you do not fuss over Google, then you can benefit from the slew of Microsoft services, such as: Bing, Xbox (games, music, and videos), Office (far larger user base and a better service than all alternatives), Outlook (both the new Hotmail and business orientated mail), Bing Maps (now powered by Nokia’s data), Skydrive (free 7gb of storage), Skype (the best), Lync, Azure etc. Finally, if you opt for a Nokia powered Windows device then you have a host of Nokia’s best services too, and now Nokia Maps is widely available for Windows Phone 8 users you’ll be better off than if you were using Google Maps!