App development has turned into something of a gold rush. Developers are looking to stake their claim wherever they can so they can carve out their own piece of the pie, and hopefully, strike mobile gold.
Unfortunately, it seems like those claims are disappearing, and those pieces of pie are getting slimmer and slimmer. With over 300,000 apps already available for the iOS, 100,000 for Android, and around 15,000 for BlackBerry, there’s not a lot of elbow room for new app developers to make their mark. Odds are, your great, new, original idea has been done by someone else — and no, another Bejewelled rip-off is not an original idea.
Fortunately, a vast expanse of new opportunities is opening up for developers. That expanse is better known as Windows Phone 7, and Microsoft is courting developers with all kinds of perks and support to get them to join the App Hub, the community for WP7 developers.
The App Hub has many benefits for developers. Free tools, support, sample code, and, of course, access to the Windows Phone Marketplace, where you can sell your games and apps to Microsoft’s far-reaching market share. You can check out the benefits of joining the Hub here, and see what comes with membership.
Perhaps the developers that should be most excited about developing for WP7 are game developers. While iPhone games are certainly popular, Apple really only has access to the mobile gaming ecosystem; Windows, on the other hand, has home gaming locked up with Xbox 360. With WP7, users with a mind for gaming can play games on their Windows Phone, and then pick up where they left off on their Xbox 360 — and in the case of some Xbox games, the reverse is true as well. Another big plus is that signing up to become a developer for WP7 also gives you access to developing games for the Xbox LIVE on the Xbox 360.
If the relative anonymity that has characterized WP7 thus far is a turn-off for you, you should instead be thinking of it as an opportunity. While BlackBerry is characterized as a business device, and iPhone is for recreation, the identity of WP7 is yet to be created — and will probably be formed in no small part by the first few great apps that are developed for it. Developers who jump on the bandwagon now are likely to influence the future direction WP7 goes in, or, perhaps more importantly, the public’s perception of it.
And, as Business Insider opines, there’s one huge advantage to developing for WP7 that the other phone makers haven’t been able to match: the advertising is done for you, at Microsoft’s expense:
How many mobile companies can afford a ten-figure advertising budget? Microsoft's already got one (that's a 2009 figure, and spread across all its products, but still). Apple and Google could probably spend that much if they had to. Nokia and RIM, probably not. And while Apple and Google's phones are already packed with apps, the field's a lot less crowded with Phone 7. If you want your mobile app featured on a high-profile TV ad (Superbowl?) you've got a better chance with Microsoft than with any other mobile platform.
If you think your company could reap the benefits of developing for Windows Phone 7, what are you waiting for? You can find a guide to getting started here.