There is no doubt that some aspects of a controlled app store are beneficial. The single market also focuses the users attention on apps and provides us with opportunities to make money without having to engage in extensive marketing. The downside is obviously that we have to give up control of quite a lot and trust that the system is fair.
The most obvious example of a walled app store is of course the App Store, i. Apple's app store.
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It is generally ranked slightly worse than Google's app store for being over-controlling and who knows how bad Amazon's app store really is. All of this happened without Microsoft and the biggest OS on the planet - Windows.
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You could say Microsoft made Windows open because it hadn't really thought about any alternatives and their associated advantages. Follow this up with the Windows 8 slow train wreck and Microsoft's one attempt at an app store seemed to be a failure along with it.
However, things didn't just stop at this point. While Satya Nadella was busy getting Microsoft to open source things, he also signed off on Universal Windows Platform and its associated apps and app store. If you want an app to run on all Windows 10 devices that it has to be a UWP app and it has to be sold and delivered via Microsoft.
RIP Windows Phone: Death by App-phyxiation
While it is possible to sideload UWP apps, this is not something that users are going to do on a regular basis and it doesn't represent an effective way of selling or distributing UWP apps. He writes in his Guardian editorial:. In my view, this is the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made If you want to argue that there is still the good old open Win32 and. Phones running Windows Phone or Windows 10 have been heavily in the minority for a number of years, and nothing was coming to change that.
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How could Microsoft, one of the most valuable, savvy and well-known consumer technology companies on the planet, fail so miserably in mobile? Microsoft has done a nice job of monetizing their core solutions across other mobile platforms like Office , but failed to create a lasting mobile platform and developer ecosystem of their own. Over its short lifespan, Microsoft experimented with ways to grow the Windows Phone ecosystem, but was met with little success. More recently, the company found success in gaming with the Xbox platform, and through the Surface Pro, which shows strong legs as an iPad Pro competitor.
BlackBerry has always been a poor platform for developers.
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Apps were always hamstrung by size requirements. Forbes summed things up this way:. For end-users, navigating web-based applications on the BlackBerry browser was cumbersome at best. One of the reasons that Apple and Google lead the planet in mobile is that they have found a way to leverage their core business strengths in the app economy. Apple has built its walled empire on the basis of risk, category dominance, fierce pursuit, and protection of patents at one point, the company spent more on litigation than research and development. The other thing that Apple does and has always done really well is provide a great experience for developers.
Is Microsoft trying to turn Windows into a “walled garden?”
That has meant more and better apps that helped attract users to its mobile platform, making Apple a preferred premium mobile brand. What Google is really good at, on the other hand, is search—a free, but wildly pervasive solution that is now intuitively understood by the whole planet.
Google also learned what developers want a lot more quickly than Microsoft. Bugsense put it this way:. No rich notifications…no custom widgets, no live wallpapers, no true multitasking, no broadcast receivers and content providers, no openness, no abilities. In the beginning, there were very few apps available for either platform.
But, while Microsoft meandered, Google acted quickly to improve the opportunity for developers by tying the then-Android Market now Google Play Store into device marketing. By doing so, Google managed to make apps an integral part of the user experience, which made the phone an enabling tool, not the end product.