Box and Evernote execs: Don't ignore Microsoft's platforms

Credit: Evernote

Evernote CTO Dave Engberg has noticed something funny: Just because a lot of people own a particular type of smartphone, that doesn't mean they actually download apps for it.

Speaking today at Business Insider's IGNITION Mobile conference, Engberg explained that Evernote had learned a lot by building mobile versions of Evernote that failed to take off.

In particular, he said, "BlackBerry is a great smartphone platform, but most users don't think of it as an app platform. So even if the same number of people are using BlackBerry and iOS, if you put the same quality level of app out on iOS, you'll get 10 times the installations."

Engberg also said that Evernote is seeing increasing usage of its Windows Phone app -- and more important, that people on that platform use it quite often and buy extra services. "The average revenue per user is more than it is for Android." He called Windows Phone revenue "modest, but worth the effort" and said it was "solidly in third place" -- ahead of BlackBerry. 

But Engberg does not recommend trying to reach these smaller platforms with a cross-platform development strategy. "If you build a kind-of-OK HTML5 app for a mobile device, you'll be number nine" in the various app store lists for your category. Meanwhile, the top two apps will get almost all the downloads.

"It's not worth doing it halfway," he insisted. "There's no benefit of putting half effort into it."

Box COO Dan Levin, who was on the same panel, also said that enterprise app makers should not ignore Microsoft's Windows 8 platform. Speaking to the audience of Silicon Valley business and tech employees in San Francisco, Levin said, "You'd be stunned at how many CIOs and IT people in places like Kansas City say that whatever Microsoft ships is the only thing they'll consider. We can't even have a conversation with a CIO that doesn't include Windows."

Workday VP Joe Korngiebel also hinted that that the apparent failure of Microsoft's Surface tablet stems largely from Microsoft's decision to release the Windows RT version first -- Windows RT does not run legacy Windows apps, unlike Windows 8. He believes that many IT departments will eventually bring Windows tablets into the enterprise as standard kit, and enterprise software companies need to have a version of their software ready

That said, Microsoft's delay in getting a viable tablet out has given the iPad a huge head start. Korngiebel said "the iPad has taken over as the device of choice" for executives, replacing laptops. 

Box's Levin agreed. "The trapdoor is open. Consumerization of IT is here to stay."

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