Microsoft's Windows 8 app store failed a test touted by a former Microsoft manager and distinguished engineer as a way to determine an ecosystem's relevance.
On Monday, Hal Berenson, now president of True Mountain Group, a technology and management consulting firm, spelled out a way to evaluate an app store's content and maturity that bypassed the usual app quantity metrics.
"I'm going to take a handful of categories that are important to me, and I believe many others, and see how well-represented apps are in the Windows Phone Store," Berenson wrote on his personal blog.
Simply put, Berenson picked three categories -- banking, mutual funds and airlines -- determined the U.S.'s top 10 in each, then went looking for apps from those banks, mutual fund firms and airlines in the Windows Phone Store.
Last week, Microsoft announced that the Windows Phone Store had passed the 145,000-app mark.
While Berenson used his down-and-dirty methodology to measure the Windows Phone app store, the same process can be used with any app ecosystem, including the Windows Store, the distribution channel for Windows 8 and Windows RT apps.
"Pick a category of apps that are important and find a 'Top 10' list for those," Berenson urged, arguing that it was a better way to evaluate an ecosystem than to fixate on missing must-have apps, or rely on app tallies. "If it's a real world category, then pick the Top 10 businesses in the real world (as opposed to lists of what are downloaded on other platforms), and see how many of those have official apps in each of the app stores."
Others have, not surprising, evaluated the Windows Store using just the methods Berenson dismissed. In March, for example, Sameer Singh of Tech-Thoughts highlighted a slow-down in the growth of the app count. Previously, other analysts have dinged Microsoft for not convincing developers to provide important apps, with several citing the still-AWOL Facebook as a prime example.
For Windows Phone, Berenson found three top-10 banking apps, none in the mutual fund category and three top-10 airline apps.
Windows 8 and Windows RT fared even poorer, according to searches by of the Windows Store conducted by Computerworld.
Of the top-10 banks, the Windows Store sported just one: Bank of America. None of the top-10 mutual fund firms had a Windows 8 app in the store, while only one top-10 airline -- Alaska Airlines -- offered its own app.
Both the Google Play and iOS App Store had Android and iPhone/iPad apps for all 10 banks, while each platform boasted apps for seven the top-10 mutual funds and eight of the top-10 airlines.
Berenson didn't use his metric on the Windows Store, he said in a comment appended to his own blog, because that app market has "only been open 6.5 months." Yet he acknowledged that it wouldn't pass his test: "Yes, it would fail my Top-10 test miserably, but it's way too early to get depressed about it."
Today, Tami Reller, the CFO of the Windows division, said that the Windows Store now boasts 70,000 apps.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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