HERE just dealt a huge blow to Windows 10, announcing that it will remove all of its apps for the new operating system from Store on 29 March. The news comes before the start of the Windows 10 Mobile rollout, which Microsoft has already delayed a couple of times.
HERE is one of the most important Windows developers, providing the best and the most popular navigation apps for smartphones running the tiled OS. Offerings like Drive and Maps have shipped on nearly all Windows Phones, and are used by the vast majority of users.
"In the last few months, we made the HERE apps compatible with Windows 10 by using a workaround that will no longer be effective after June 30, 2016", says HERE's Pino Bonetti. "To continue offering the HERE apps for Windows 10 would require us to redevelop the apps from the ground up, a scenario that led to the business decision to remove our apps from the Windows 10 store".
HERE likely cannot justify the cost to develop the new apps because Windows 10 Mobile has a limited potential for growth. Windows Phone's market share in the last quarter of 2015 was just over one per cent, which, when put into context, makes it look irrelevant. (Windows 10 has more users, but navigation apps are heavily used only on smartphones which is why Windows 10 Mobile's share matters more.)
Android and iOS have a combined market share of over 90 per cent, and HERE has released apps for both platforms. There is no word on how many users it has on Android and iOS, but at least there is lots of room to grow considering that there are billions of Android and iOS users across the globe.
HERE is taking a less radical approach when it comes to its Windows Phone 8 apps, for which development will continue, but in a limited fashion. The company says that any updates to come will only address important bugs. The older tiled OS will continue to be supported because HERE apps are an integral part of its user experience.
What's more, HERE has also revealed that it will also stop updating the maps developed just for Windows Phone, so its users will not see any new roads, speed limits, points of interest and other such things after 29 March.
HERE is not the only developer to abandon Windows phones, but it is the most important one so far. After its apps are gone, Windows 10 users will likely switch to Microsoft's offerings, but it remains to be seen whether they will be happy with them. Either way, the Windows 10 Mobile rollout will not be off to a great start.