[caption id="attachment_6806" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Windows Phone 8 Start screens.[/caption] As 2012 comes to an end, Microsoft is still fighting to make Windows Phone a viable third-place competitor to Google Android and Apple’s iPhone. The launch of Windows Phone 8, the most advanced version of the smartphone platform, was meant to herald a new stage of competitiveness—but so far, Microsoft’s failed to gain substantial market-share in the mobile space. That being said, Microsoft is apparently enjoying some success in the growth of Windows Phone apps. According to a Dec. 26 posting on the Windows Phone Developer Blog, the platform’s app catalog stands at 75,000 new apps, more than double its count at the start of the year. (When it launched the Windows Phone 8 SDK in October, Microsoft claimed that 120,000 apps developed for Windows Phone 7.x will run on Windows Phone 8 devices, adding to the latter’s portfolio.) “Even though Windows Phone 8 just started shipping in the last 7 weeks and most developers are still creating new or updated Windows Phone 8 apps,” read the blog’s note on the matter, “we have already seen an increase in developer revenue month over month, up 40 [percent] in the 30 days since the SDK release.” Microsoft has expanded its regional markets for downloading apps and games (from 35 at the beginning of the year to 191 with Windows Phone 8) and added features such as in-app purchase capabilities. Analysts generally view 2013 as a critical year for Microsoft’s mobile aspirations. In a November research note, IDC suggested that Microsoft—along with RIM—has no choice but to succeed. “Both vendors need to capture much greater interest from mobile app developers to expand the number of apps that run on devices powered by their respective operating systems,” read IDC’s Nov. 29 research note on the cloud and mobility market in 2013. “Failure to do so by the end of 2013 will likely be the beginning of their demise in this market.” According to November data from research firm Gartner, Google Android owns 72.4 percent of the mobile market, followed by Apple’s iOS with 13.9 percent, RIM’s BlackBerry OS with 5.3 percent, and then Microsoft with 2.4 percent. Windows Phone 8 shares a kernel, file system, graphics support, and other elements with Windows 8. Microsoft is hoping that third-party developers will take advantage of that overlap to port apps from the desktop/tablet OS to the smartphone OS. But will more Windows Phone 8 apps translate into more customers opting for Windows Phone 8?   Image: Microsoft