Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming has revealed during an interview with The Times that Microsoft wants to compete with Apple and Google in mobile app stores. It plans to create a rival service focusing on games. He also said that regulators support Microsoft’s idea of creating a third-party mobile app store, and why wouldn’t they? The EU for instance has passed a law to force gatekeepers, i.e. major players such as Google and Apple, to allow more choices for users as to where they download mobile apps from. Even the White House called out the duopoly of the two stores, terming them as anticompetitive. But, don’t expect a miracle anytime soon, Spencer says that Microsoft is a long way from creating its own mobile app store.
Is it time for Microsoft to step into the mobile app market?
The point is, it doesn’t have to start from scratch. Microsoft already has a foothold in the mobile industry, all its apps can be hosted on its own app store. But the important part is to actually get people to start using a Microsoft Store on their phone. That’s an entirely different matter, and would require some additional effort. It could once again largely depend on the availability of third-party apps, or in this case, as Spencer said, mobile games. Attracting Android gamers to its mobile app store could be much easier, than to get users to switch to a new OS (and device) altogether. This is purely speculative, but I think it could actually work out, especially if Microsoft takes the Epic Games Store route of drawing in some exclusive titles, or offer some perks to users like how Microsoft Rewards does.
The Redmond company recently explained how it has provided developers the option to place ads on the Microsoft Store for PC, to help promote their apps. The announcement notes how “the lines between mobile and desktop have blurred”, and also highlights that the desktop app distribution experience is similar to mobile. I think all of this adds up, provide developers an easy way to get their apps on the app store, along with some other incentives like featuring them prominently via ads, and they’ll gladly bring the apps to it.
Neowin notes that Microsoft allows mobile gamers to access Xbox games via the Xbox app’s cloud gaming feature. The tech giant has also partnered with the Amazon Appstore to enable people to use Android apps on their Windows 11 PCs. Clearly it has a lot of experience in the mobile app industry, and I think it is time for Microsoft to throw its hat in the ring, to level the playing field. At the very least, this could force Google and Apple to step up their game.