Windows Phone 8 doesn’t have enough apps, we’ve heard this line before and we’ll probably hear it again, but over the weekend Microsoft took a somewhat questionable approach to correcting this problem. Starting last Friday, the company flooded its mobile app store with 50 new “apps,” essentially repackaging popular mobile web sites as native apps in an effort to fill out the Windows Phone Store.
— Will Dreiling (@StLDreiling) October 21, 2013
According to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, the apps, which cover sites ranging from TMZ to the Food Network, come from a new WebApps team that works separately from the Microsoft Publisher Account tasked with developing Microsoft apps for the Windows Phone platform. In an official statement, the company claimed the new “pinnable Web Apps” are not intended to replace native apps. Instead, Microsoft hopes they will “encourage” companies to roll out their own official Windows Phone apps.
Microsoft has tried a number of approaches to get more apps into the Windows Phone ecosystem, from buying a stake in Facebook to throwing thousands of dollars at developers who port their apps over to the struggling platform, and whether its latest move will work is unclear. It’s possible that companies like TMZ will see its WebApp take off and port over an official app in response. But the move also reeks of desperation on Microsoft’s part, like building a cardboard town in the hopes of luring new residents to move in.