Microsoft plots to bring Android apps to Windows Phone
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has applied to patent technology that enables users to migrate applications from rival operating systems like Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS to its Windows Phone platform.
Click here to zoom in on the patent application diagram.
A patent application originally filed in late 2010 suggests Microsoft is working on a service that would scan applications installed on the Windows Phone user's legacy iPhone or Android device to identify identical or similar apps available for download from the Windows Phone Marketplace storefront. However, in the event Microsoft is unable to make a match, the service also would enable consumers to transfer their existing iOS and Android apps to their new Windows Phone handset, guaranteeing them continued access to their favorite games and services.
While the Microsoft service is compelling in theory, it is unclear how it would work in practice. Neither Apple nor Google currently allow users to migrate their apps from one platform to another. The patent also indicates Windows Phone users looking to repopulate their handset with the same premium apps available on their previous device would likely be expected to purchase those apps from Windows Phone Marketplace, which could limit consumer interest in switching operating systems.
ABI Research anticipates consumers will download close to 36 billion mobile applications this year, with iOS and Android combining to drive 83 percent of all downloads. Windows Phone devices are expected to generate just 2 percent of all app installs this year, ABI notes. Critics commonly cite the relative scarcity of Windows Phone apps compared to rival platforms: Windows Phone Marketplace currently offers about 80,000 apps, while Apple's App Store features more than 600,000, followed by Google Play at around 400,000.
The Android operating system powers 56.1 percent of all smartphones sold in the first quarter and now represents 36.4 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, according to Gartner data issued earlier this week. iOS fuels 22.9 percent of first-quarter smartphone sales and accounts for 16.9 percent of the global market. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Microsoft sold just 2.7 million Windows Phone devices in the first quarter and controls a mere 2.6 percent of the worldwide smartphone market.
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