App Store for Windows Mobile on the Xperia X1
PocketGear unveiled its new App Store for Windows Mobile yesterday and let's just say that Microsoft's upcoming Skymarket will basically have no competition if it's announced at MWC next week. It's not that PocketGear's App Store is inherently bad . . . it's just a bit misleading and not very good, especially now that most people hear the words "app store" and immediately think of Apple.
Even though Apple wasn't the first to allow users to purchase and download applications directly from their mobile devices, they were the first to really bring it to the masses. The frequency of tantrums thrown by iPhone and iPod touch users when an application costs more than $5 makes that pretty clear. Windows Mobile users, by contrast, have been paying $20 to $30 for similar (and in some cases the same) applications for years; a $10 app was usually considered a bargain!
But now that mainstream consumers believe that most applications are worth about $3 and have grown accustomed to the way Apple's App Store looks, works, and feels, a service bearing the same name, even if for a different platform, has to contend with a lot of expectations. And PocketGear's App Store for Windows Mobile, which supports more than 950 WinMo phones (including the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1), falls short. Take a quick tour of the new store on the X1 below.
First of all, the free App Store is actually just a shortcut icon to the online app store. Clicking the icon automatically launches Internet Explorer.
I prefer Opera Mobile, which comes preloaded on the X1, but the App Store in IE is pretty responsive and loads fairly quickly, even on EDGE. Unfortunately, the catalog isn't very extensive (PocketGear says there are over 2500 available apps, but only about 1750 are listed), the user interface lacks finesse, prices are comparatively high, and it takes too many clicks to buy/download something.
When you see something you like, you click on it, add it to your cart, look at it in your cart, decide if you want to continue shopping or checkout, sign in (or register if you don't already have an account), and then presumably purchase and download the application to your desired location. I say "presumably" because I didn't find anything I wanted that I didn't already have (I use some of my old HTC Advantage and AT&T Tilt software on the X1).
I did find a free app, though, so although I don't know exactly what the checkout procedure is like, I assume the download process is the same as what you see above: download a CAB to your device and then install it automatically (if you leave the "open file after download" checked) or manually.
As I said earlier, the App Store for Windows Mobile is not inherently bad. It's perfectly functional and better than Handango's InHand, but it just isn't really an app store. Not in the way that most consumers define it, anyway.
I do like that you can add items to your cart and then checkout just once when you're done shopping, though. Doing so should be more streamlined to lessen the amount of clicks, but it's nice to have normal online store functionality. An "add to cart" feature would be a nice addition to Apple's App Store, for example, as buying multiple applications individually can get tedious.
If you've never used or seen the App Store according to Apple, then I guess PocketGear's App Store for Windows Mobile is the best you'll get until Skymarket or something else comes along.