Growing Apps Market Sign of Hope for Windows Phone

Engadget reports this morning that the number of mobile apps available on Microsoft‘s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows OS phone has more than doubled in the past three months, now totaling over 25,000. This is an encouraging sign for the company’s potential to compete in smartphone markets, where Google‘s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android OS and Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS phones currently have 37% and 28% of the smartphone market share, respectively.

Windows OS phones accounted for 9% of the smartphone market in the latest Nielsen (NYSE:NLSN) survey, though the quickening pace of app availability is a sign that developers have confidence in the company’s ability to emerge as a third horse. Microsoft’s ascension could be aided by the flailing demise of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), which has been rapidly losing its market share to competitors amidst tumultuous financial and internal conditions.

Despite the recent growth in Microsoft’s app store, competitors Apple and Google still have the advantage with 425,000 available apps, more than twenty times Microsoft’s current offerings. In terms of actual apps downloads, Apple has the biggest lead, with users of its products accounting for 76% of app downloads so far this year.

Microsoft’s upward momentum could turn out to be the saving grace of embattled phone maker Nokia (NYSE:NOK), which recently began to offer Windows Phones under its service. The Finland-based cell company’s shares have plummeted this year on weak sales, missed earnings targets, and a generally dwindling financial outlook. Formerly the leader in global cell phone sales volume, Nokia’s Symbian OS smart phones currently hold a measly 2% market share. The Atlantic recently listed Nokia as one of “10 brands that will die in 2012.”