When Satya Nadella was named just the third CEO in
's long history in February, he made it clear that he did not
exactly share former chief Steve Ballmer's vision for the tech
juggernaut to becomea "devices and services" company. As Nadella
said in a press release announcing his new role , "The
opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must
focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform."
Nadella has since clarified the transformation he envisioned
for Microsoft with his oft-repeated mantra, "cloud first, mobile
first." As highlighted in Microsoft's recently completed fiscal
2014 fourth quarter, Nadella's emphasis on driving cloud revenue
certainly seems to be working.
With an annual run rate of over $4.4 billion in revenue, it
could be argued that Microsoft is leading the way in the
burgeoning cloud market. Making a dent in the highly competitive
world of mobile technologies, however, has been more challenging.
One problem Microsoft has faced in this space is its lack of
downloadable apps: a critical piece of the mobile pie, as
Now Microsoft wants in the app download game, and it just
released an updated set of tools designed to make the process
easy for developers.
An answer to Microsoft's app shortage
The primary way for Microsoft to address its app shortage is to
get app developers on board. One strategy to achieve this would
be to continue to grow Windows and Phone mobile market share, and
to make the development process as easy as possible. The first
step, growing market share, is and will continue to be a work in
progress. But Microsoft's recent release of several updates
specifically for developers should make the app development
The first update is to Visual Studio 2013, Microsoft's
complete set of tools for mobile desktop, and Web
development. The next update is a software development kit for
Microsoft's cloud platform, Azure, to use as a platform for
developing and testing apps.
The next two updates specifically address the shortage of
mobile apps Microsoft offers Windows customers. To give you an
idea, nine of the top 10 app downloads from Apple's App
Store are not available on Windows Phone. Microsoft hopes its
Windows Phone 8.1 update for developers will help fix the
shortage by making it easier to develop and test apps
specifically for Windows.
However, Nadella knows ignoring iOS and Android isn't a viable
option, which is why Microsoft this week released a preview of
what it calls the Multi-Device Hybrid Apps CT 2.0. This tool
gives developers the ability to build and test apps in any
of the big three operating systems -- iOS, Android, and Windows
-- and now supports older systems, including Windows 7 and early
Why it matters for Microsoft
, with its huge Android OS market share, accounts for 75% of
the market in downloaded apps for mobile devices, but
Apple enjoys a huge edge in revenue.
Last year alone, users of Apple's app store spent over $10
billion. And it's not just the revenue directly attributable to
app downloads that matters for a mobile upstart like Microsoft.
Microsoft Windows and Windows Phone users have long grumbled
about the lack of available applications; as any smartphone or
tablet owner will tell you, a wide selection of available apps
plays an important role in determining which device a user
If Apple's app download results are any indication, and as the
leader in revenue it's safe to say they are, the market for apps
is getting even bigger. Though Apple didn't share specifics,
it said recently that July was its biggest month ever for the
number of apps customers and the amount of revenue generated.
According to a recent report from eMarketer, nearly 70% of all
smartphone users view their free apps during the course of a
month, and 57% play games.
Final Foolish thoughts
It appears Nadella's vision of Microsoft as a cloud-first,
mobile-first entity is taking hold. Cloud revenue is growing
exponentially, and with these new development tools, Microsoft
hopes to address some of its mobile shortcomings.
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Microsoft Corporation Unwraps New Tools for App
originally appeared on Fool.com.
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