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January 4, 2010

My Top 2009 Windows Phone Apps Roundup And Reflections

With the close of 2009 I posted a listing of my personal Top 10 Windows Phone applications. To close out the apps mini series I thought I would set the context for what determined the choices (probably should have done this up front), respond to several observations of the exclusion of some applications, and talk about my hopes for the upcoming 2010 Windows Phone wise.

On My 2009 Top 10 List:

I love using my Windows Phone. In daily use I am pretty evenly balanced in my use of it as a work device as well as for a mobile social media device. On the work front I require a device that is managed by our central IT organization in order to protect the sensitive data that may reside on it from time to time. I also need the device to be backed up and have its Enterprise usage be reflective of the Enterprise needs and usage patterns of my clients. I would love to focus my use and attention on cool, cutting edge only features but my professional role necessitates a device and applications that meet my daily professional work needs. Application such as Communicator which ties in to my works Unified Communications platform, MyPhone which backs up my data to the cloud, Microsoft Tag which I use on my business cards as well as in conjunction with live events I present at are all examples of applications that fit nicely with my work requirements.

On the social media front I look for application that can help keep me connected to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and others, as well as capture rich mobile data. The applications have to work well for me on the device that I have which is an HTC Ozone running Windows Phone 6.1. With the device not running the newer 6.5 and not possessing touch screen capabilities the access to applications that may fit the bill for me from the Windows Marketplace is somewhat limited. However, even on Windows Phone 6.1 with no touch screen there are some incredible applications that assist me in my day to day mobile social media efforts. Applications like LiveMedia GPS for geocasting, Glympse for geolocation notification, MySpace that has helped me begin to utilize again what had been a dormant MySpace account, and more.

When I finished posting my final application, Bing, two articles were brought to my attention that raised some valid questions about my choices, the Windows Phone application ecosystem. There was also some question as to why I omitted applications like the Facebook one and why I chose applications like Twikini over other competitor products. The two articles were 1 – “What ecosystem? Microsoft apps dominate its guru’s WinMo picks“ and 2 – “Microsoft shill – Michael Gannotti – names top ten 10 Windows Mobile apps – an exercise in insincerity.”

In the first article author Todd Bishop points out that fully half of the applications I chose are Microsoft created applications and justly asks whether my choices point to a lack of a 3rd party ecosystem. The second article goes even further suggesting that the large amount of Microsoft applications is an indication of shameless promotion of Microsoft applications. In response I think it is important to note that my application choices are reflective of the applications I actually use on a regular basis on my HTC Ozone running Windows Phone 6.1. The device itself, while a fine reliable one, itself limits the choices available to me. My son runs an older Samsung i760 but because it has a touch screen the number of application available from the Marketplace is much larger than what is available to me. As far as an indication of of an issue with the 3rd party ecosystem I leave that for others to decide. My choices are purely based on me finding applications that meet a need I have and perform reasonably well in addressing my needs. Once I have stumbled across an application and like it I will stick with it until it gives me a reason to look elsewhere. As a Microsoft employee I have had access to some of the early pre-release builds of some of our mobile applications. Those I found I liked, such as MyPhone, I have latched on to and continue to use, especially if the price is right…. free. As far as broad availability of 3rd party applications I do know one has only to look to Handango and other similar sites to find a plentiful assortment of 3rd party developed applications. In my caser though with me using my device as much for work as for pleasure I think it should come as no surprise that half of my picks were developed by my employer Microsoft. I never said I was publishing THE top 10 Apps for Windows Phone. I would require a better up to date, and more capable, device, in order for me to properly evaluate many of the applications out there. Even if I did have such a device I would not have the time for such an exhaustive investigation as my actual job at Microsoft does NOT include evangelism activities or reviews.

There were also a few questions around my omission of applications as well as choosing certain apps over other. In one instance a person was surprised that I did not include the Facebook application for Windows Phone in the list. Developed by Microsoft it has been perhaps the most celebrated of the Microsoft mobile social media applications. Unfortunately for me it does not appear to function well on my particular device and I find myself still relying primarily on the mobile browser view of Facebook. I hope this will change in the future but for now that is the case. I was also asked why I chose Glympse over another geolocation service and why I chose Twikini over a rival application. In the case of Glympse I saw it the first day I installed the Marketplace. I installed it, it has functioned as advertised and I have used it ever since. With Twikini the second article went so far as to insinuate that I somehow know the folks personally at Twikini. I first started using Twikini when it was in beta. I think I may have seen a post on Twitter by someone about it. It has worked well for me, I don’t personally know the staff there, and it has been updated regularly. There may very well be better applications out there but I have had no cause to explore further. Again I don’t work for the Windows Phone team, i don’t get paid to do reviews, write-ups, or evangelization (I wish I did and if anyone knows how I could get a gig doing that let me know 😉 so if I stumble on an application and it works I stick with it.

On 2010:

With the advent of a new year I am very excited about what is in store on the mobile front. With completion amongst device makers, platform provides, and mobile carriers heating up the consumers will ultimately be the real winners. As a Microsoft employee my professional needs remain the same but I am looking forward to trying new more productive applications. I also look forward to seeing the release of newer more capable Windows Phone devices that allow an Enterprise user such as myself to have the best of both worlds and have a managed device that truly facilitates mobile social media. I am already having visions of things like LiveMedia GPS incorporation of Photosynths in its video/Bing maps mashups. The mobile device marketplace is heating up and I can’t wait to see what my top 10 apps will look like for this next year.

Where do you see the hot spots being for applications or direction for mobile application development? Do you have any favorite applications as we move in to 2010 that you think I should be checking out? I would love to hear from you on it! 🙂

Well time for me to wrap this up. Here again is a consolidated listing of my personal Top 10 Windows Phone Application for 2009 with links to the videos covering them. I hope you all had a great New Years and have a great 2010!!

  1. Microsoft Bing
  2. LiveMedia GPS by IncaX
  3. Twikini
  4. Microsoft Tag
  5. Glympse
  6. Microsoft Windows Live
  7. MySpace
  8. Microsoft MyPhone
  9. AP Mobile
  10. Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile

Michael Gannotti is a Technology Specialist for the Microsoft Corporation and the author of the blog SocialMedia Talk. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter