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Microsoft’s Productivity Take-Over

What does Microsoft's acquisition of Wunderlist say about its app strategy?

2Jun

Yesterday it was announced that Microsoft had acquired its third ‘productivity app’ in the past year.

6Wunderkinder, the Berlin-based startup responsible for the to-do-list app Wunderlist, joined Acompli and Sunrise as part of Microsoft’s growing portfolio of productivity based programmes. The deal will cost Microsoft somewhere in the region of $200,000,000, although it’s not clear what the exact cost is.

The acquisition is part of Microsoft’s bid to catch-up with Apple and Android in the app market. As of May 2015 there were 340,000 apps available on the Windows Phone Store - there are 1,400,000 on Apple’s App Store. Whilst the quality of app is the most important metric, Microsoft users will be all too aware that staples such as LinkedIn, BBC’s iPlayer and even Vine have yet to make it on the Windows Phone.

Wunderlist is a list-making tool with a twist - users can also share tasks and lists with other users. The application updates in real-time, making it a very apt system for setting due dates and meeting times with colleagues.

Whilst many would assume that Microsoft would be looking to purchase applications which only run on the Windows Phone, its strategy seems to be the opposite. Like the Sunrise application, Wunderlist is available on iOS and Android. This demonstrates that Microsoft’s strategy is to purchase apps which are widely available, make them better, and hope that people decide to switch over.

The jury is out as to whether the strategy is actually helping the Windows Phone become more successful, with sales only growing very slightly over the past couple of years. In Europe last year sales grew by 9.2%, but the fact that the Windows Phone still only has a 2.7% market share worldwide, compared to Android’s 78%, demonstrates that there’s real work ahead of it.

The addition of Wunderlist is a positive step for the Windows Phone, and although it’s not going to make or break its future, adding the app to its portfolio will give Microsoft the opportunity to improve it and prove to the world that it’s ready to compete with Android and iOS operating systems.

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