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Windows Phone 7 hits 5,000 app milestone

By David Goldman, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Windows Phone 7 hit the 5,000-application mark in its app store on Wednesday, as Microsoft announced it has shipped 1.5 million devices to retailers since the phone went on sale two month ago.

But software giant also hasn't yet said how many sales to end users it has made. That's not usually a good sign.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) sold 1.7 million iPhone 4s in June in the first three days the phone was available, and has sold 31 million phones so far this year. Google says it is currently activating 300,000 Android phones each day.

Still, analysts are impressed by what Microsoft has been able to do, considering that it was at a standstill in the mobile space just a few months ago.

"No one expected Windows Phone 7 to take the market by a storm, and ... 5,000 apps [plus] 10 devices in 30 countries is by no means a trivial achievement," said Al Hilwa, analyst at IDC. "If Microsoft executes on its mobile strategy, it will have a seat at the small table of the top two or three mobile application platform players in the next five years."

Though the iPhone App Store has 300,000 apps and the Android Marketplace now sports 200,000 apps, 5,000 apps in just two months is a nice start for Microsoft. That's already as many apps as Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ, Fortune 500) 18-month old Palm WebOS platform has, and a third of the 15,000 apps on the BlackBerry App World.

Hilwa expects Windows Phone 7's app count to surpass Research In Motion's (RIMM) Blackberry by the middle of 2011.

Almost all of the most-downloaded apps on the iPhone App Store and the Android Marketplace are also available on Windows Phone 7 -- but there are a few glaring omissions. Wanna play Angry Birds? You can't yet on a Windows Phone.

On the flip side,Netflix (NFLX) is notably available on Windows Phone 7 but not on Android. According to the streaming video company: "The hurdle has been the lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism available for Android."

Microsoft's biggest advantage is its platform's familiarity. Windows Phone 7 apps are written in .NET, the same software framework for programs for Windows. .NET is incredibly popular, with hundreds of thousands of developers writing to it.

Developers say that converting Android or iPhone applications to Windows Phone 7 has been a cinch.  To top of page

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