I’ve been using Windows Phone 8 for almost half a year now and I’ve got to say that it’s the best smartphone interface that I’ve ever used. It is also the most unsupported mobile smartphone platform out there. I didn’t even have an Instagram app available when I first purchased the phone… I had to wait almost 2 months as Instagram took their time releasing a beta that lacked many of the features that iPhone and Android users have had for almost a year.
The incident that actually gave me a reason to write about it is when Snapchat recently blocked and permanently banned users of 6snap, the ONLY functional Snapchat client on the Windows app store. Snapchat has been around for a considerable amount of time, but continues to give Windows Phone users no choice but to use 3rd party apps. People should have freedom in their decisions when choosing a smartphone platform that satisfies their needs. If Windows Phone 8.1 is the best choice for someone, they should be able download apps and have comparable functionality with any of the competitor’s versions of that app. What’s probably going on here is a concentrated effort to kill off Windows Phone, but the platform as survived through years of this strategy with growing support and adoption.
Snapchat is the only party losing out here by taking their time developing a successful app for this platform. The most obvious way that they are losing here is that 6snap has just about as many ratings and downloads as Snapchat does on iOS or Android, which means that they are likely cutting off around a 1/3 of their users by blocking 6snap… They will notice this in just a couple weeks as they notice their activity dropping. Even if they intend to release an official app on the platform, it doesn’t make sense to block 6snap before they release the app…
Personally, I believe that 6snap is better than the Snapchat app on other platforms. 6snap is capable of providing that service FOR THEM, which frees Snapchat from the trouble of having to develop an app themselves. Maybe no one at Snapchat knows how to write the code for this app on Windows Phone 8.1?? I don’t think that users of the platform should be punished for Snapchat’s lack of programming talent though… They can give 6snap verification as the official Snapchat client of Windows Phone and outsource all updates and development of new features on the platform to 6snap’s team and put some limitations on them that will keep them from being a security issue.
Snapchat isn’t the only app that has struggled to put out a useful app for their service… Instagram is still in beta and lacks video capabilities and a lot of other functions… SoundCloud, which is where I post ALL of my music and some of my mixes doesn’t even HAVE an app. Duolingo, arguably the BEST app to learn a foreign language only RECENTLY put their app up on WP, which was something I hope would have happened sooner since I was using it heavily on iOS to practice my German. And then even worse than that, the apps that do have official Windows Phone versions are often outdated or behind in some way, some of them even struggling to connect to the service. On my 6″ phone screen, it sometimes works to just use the mobile website or even the full website (if it loads), but for many people with more average screen sizes, an app that is truly designed for a mobile device with care and precision is vital! For many of us, these apps aren’t simply for entertainment, they are essential to our business operations! I’m out here trying to make a name for myself in music and need to be able to manage all my messages, stats, and notifications from my apps, just as I can do on iOS or Android, without having to sit at my computer.
I can’t imagine going back to an iPhone for anything by the iPhone 6+ (only because of the size… the interface is not really different than the interface that I had on my iPhone 4 from launch day.) so I’m hoping that Snapchat gets this issue worked out. I plan to stick with Windows Phone for a considerable amount of time until another platform develops something worth using, so to all the services that are sleeping on Windows Phone… Realize that you’ve got a wonderful opportunity here to reach a LOT more users! If you’re really serious about what you do, isn’t it your JOB to reach all those people?