As a number of developers and companies are starting to think more about how long they continue to support WP7.x devices (I've spoken with a few recently) I thought it was worth looking at this subject in a bit of detail and to consider why the figures from Microsoft and AdDuplex are so different.
Let's start by looking at those figures.
Microsoft claim that "Windows Phone devices running OS 7.x represent less than 5% of all downloads."
AdDuplex (on slide 6) say Windows Phone 7 has a 15.2% share of the OS market.
"15.2" and "less than 5" are quite different. One is more than 3 times the other.
So why could this be?
The answer of course is that I'm not comparing like with like.
Microsoft are reporting that 5% of downloads come from WP7 devices.
AdDuplex are reporting that 15% of app usage is done on WP7 devices.
Downloads and usage are very different.
- An app is (typically) only downloaded once per user but (hopefully) will be used many times.
- Due to the nature of the apps that AdDuplex collects data from (ones that show adverts) this may skew the results in favour of devices used over longer periods of time. (Which is a factor that makes showing ads a more viable monetization strategy.)
- There is an anecdotally supported and widely held opinion that people download more apps when their devices are new. Given that anyone with a WP7 device has likely had it for more than a year I'm surprised it's still this high. (Maybe the second hand market and hand-me-down scenarios are meaning many people are still getting devices that are new to them.)
So, should you still support WP7 devices?
Let's look at some scenarios:
If you're building a new app that needs WP8 specific features then you obviously can't.
If you're building a new app that doesn't need WP8 specific features then it comes down to considering whether the opportunity to have your app available to 1 in 20 more people is worth the effort (of development, maintenance, support, etc.).
If you have a WP7 app that you're considering dropping support for then it will come down to the potential costs and impact of any potential future problems or issues anyone using the app may have.
If you have a WP7 app that you're considering removing from the store then it will come down to whether you actively want to stop 1 in 20 people potentially downloading the app. Note that this will also prevent people from uninstalling and then reinstalling the app. I know some people use this a documented solution to some issues and so may be an issue.
If you have a WP7 app that you're considering disabling then it will come down to the potential costs and impact of stopping some people from using the app. Hopefully you've got analytics in your app to tell you this. If you haven't then AdDuplex's figure of 15% is very close to numbers I've seen for apps that have been around for about 3 years.
Of course this isn't a complete list (technical issues and commercial pressures can also have an impact) but hopefully this covers the majority of scenarios.