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The Windows Phone Catch 22

Everything I’ve read indicates that the new Windows Phone is so well designed that even hardcore iPhone fans would buy it.

Would buy it.

Here’s the catch 22 for Microsoft: Consumers want to buy a phone that has a robust app market, and unfortunately, the Windows Phone doesn’t have one yet. But developers want to write apps for platforms with a big and lucrative customer base, which the Windows Phone doesn’t have yet.

So they need apps to get customers, and customers to get apps. That’s a tough spot to be in. Update: As Tom Warren at the Verge points out, it’s not about quantity of apps, but about quality. People want the apps their friends use, and right now, the Windows Phone is missing those.

By most measures, the Windows Phone is pretty damn impressive. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) a few weeks ago, Microsoft’s Ben Rudolph ran the $100 Challenge.

He challenged other conference attendees to complete common tasks on their smart phone while he did the same tasks on his Windows Phone - things like updating Twitter, posting a photo on Facebook, and so on.

The Windows Phone had 30 wins, three losses, and one draw. Not bad at all.

One well thought out user interaction that I’m jealous of is the ability to post and tag a photo to Facebook directly from the photo library, without opening up an app. You can currently do that with Twitter on the iPhone, but not Facebook, which is where I post most of my photos.

If you were Microsoft, what would you do? How would you court developers to a low-customer platform? How would you woo customers to a low-app ecosystem?

Via John Gruber and Jim Dalrymple