Microsoft Windows Phone Inches Toward Relevance

Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) Windows Phone is a snoozer. Despite all the fanfare over its innovative Metro style and unique interface, the software giant's global market share in mobile operating systems closed out last year with under 2%. Even Samsung's proprietary Bada OS is beating it by a few hairs.

That hasn't stopped Mr. Softy from continuing to bolster its Windows Phone Marketplace's app offerings. The Marketplace now has 70,000 apps under its belt, an aggressive expansion from the 50,000 it had in December and the 60,000 in January.

That pales in comparison with the Apple (NAS: AAPL) iOS App Store, with almost 600,000 apps currently available, while Google's (NAS: GOOG) Play Store has more than 450,000. Microsoft does have (NAS: AMZN) beat, though, as the e-tail giant just reached 31,000 apps in its Android Appstore on its birthday, although those are mainly geared toward its Kindle Fire tablet instead of smartphones.

Will Windows Phone turn out to be a big mobile money pit, like Hewlett-Packard's webOS? Or its own Bing "decision" engine? (The online services division that includes Bing generated an operating loss of $458 million last quarter.) I think it's inevitable for Windows Phone to start gaining some traction and market share.

It's unlikely to ever bump elbows with iOS or Android, but Google's pending acquisition of Motorola Mobility is a pretty strong incentive for OEMs to diversify their OS base. Popular Android OEM Samsung is reportedly interested in licensing out Research In Motion's BB10 OS, not to mention adding to its WP lineup.

The upcoming release of Windows 8 should also complement WP nicely, and I think Windows 8 will be a winner in tablets. Windows 8 might just turn people on to WP just as Apple's iPod turned people on to Macs as a complementary product a decade ago, although probably not nearly to the same extent.

Add the Nokia (NYS: NOK) hardware partnership in with the burgeoning app offerings and motivation for OEMs to inch away from Android, and it seems as if WP's market share has nowhere to go but up.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Apple and, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Microsoft,, and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Google, Apple,, Nokia, and Microsoft and creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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