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BLOG: Why Microsoft will never catch Google or Apple

Alan Shimel | Jan. 7, 2014
It's all about the apps and delivery.

Happy New Year to all of my readers. I haven't posted since before Christmas, as I was on an extended holiday with my family. Actually, we loaded the kids in the car and took a long drive up the east coast from Florida to New York, driving all that way with kids' demands that you have lots of content on their screens. So we loaded up every device with a screen we owned to keep them busy.

As a result of loading all of this content I had a chance first hand to experience how well the delivery and selection was for devices using iOS, Android and Windows 8.1. In terms of video content, all three ecosystems had similar selections. In terms of apps, though, it wasn't even close. Apple and Google's app stores dwarf the rather meager offerings of the Microsoft store. If you just cruise the Microsoft store, you may not realize how bare the shelves are, though. It is only when you compare it to Apple and Google that you see the difference. I was reminded of the short time I was using the HP store for my HP Touchpad and thought there was a decent amount of apps for the PalmOS/WebOS it ran. Only when I compared it to iTunes or Google Play did I see the stark contrast.

It reminded me of something my friend from down under Andrew Greely used to tell me about the initial iPhone. I was not that impressed, but Andrew used to say, "Shimmy, Shimmy, it is all about the 10,000 apps." How right he was. But it was more than 10,000 - it was closer to a million. While I don't know the exact numbers of either Apple or Google's apps, it dwarfs the Microsoft apps.

I am afraid it is more than the number of apps, though. It is the infrastructure as well that leaves Microsoft a distant third in this race. Since I didn't want to rack up bandwidth/data charges I was loading up the devices with content while on my home Wi-Fi network. I would purchase a movie or show for rent and download it to the device. With my fast connection at home, it shouldn't take too long to download even a full-length movie in HD (about 4.5GB). On Google Play, it didn't take long at all. Even Apple, which sometimes can be slower, was not too bad. But downloading content from the Microsoft Xbox network was painful. It literally took over night to download two movies. 

I ran bandwidth tests again and again to see if it was the device or the Microsoft servers. All of them showed the same thing. My Windows device and network were fine. The Microsoft servers were just really slow.


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