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Windows Phone Marketplace: Does it have the apps I need?

If you're thinking of swapping your iPhone or Android for a shiny new Nokia Lumia 900, you might want to check to see if the Windows Phone Marketplace has your favorite apps first.

Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

When it comes to downloading apps, most smartphone users think there are exactly two places to go: the iTunes App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android. But what many of these users might not know (or what they may be choosing to ignore) is that there's actually another shop on the block that is slowly growing its catalog (and I'm not talking about BlackBerry App World).

With over 70,000 apps and games available, and roughly 300 new titles added every day, the Windows Phone Marketplace certainly looks like it's on an upswing, which is great. But for anyone thinking of picking up a Windows Phone device, the number of apps is probably not quite as important as the actual titles that are available. So, what I want to know is, if I swap my HTC Evo for that sweet new Nokia Lumia 900, will I be able to get all the apps I need?

To help answer that question, I took a look at 20 popular apps (across all categories) that are available on iOS and Android devices, and I looked to see if I could get them from the Windows Phone Marketplace. Here's what I found:

App On iOS? On Android? On Windows Phone?
Facebook YES YES YES
Google+ YES YES -
Foursquare YES YES YES
Instagram YES YES -
Draw Something YES YES -
Angry Birds Space YES YES -
Infinity Blade II YES - -
Modern Conflict 3 YES - -
Pandora YES YES -
Dropbox YES YES -
Hulu Plus YES YES -
Google Maps YES* YES -
Gmail YES YES -
*Google Maps powers the built-in Maps app on iOS devices, but is not available as a download from the iTunes App Store.

While my sampling was by no means scientific, I still believe my findings are an accurate representation of what's going on across these ecosystems right now. As expected, iTunes and Google Play pretty much have it all. And for any apps that they don't have, I feel pretty confident that the gap will be bridged eventually. Case in point: Instagram, long an iPhone-only favorite, finally made its way over to Android this week. On the other hand, when it comes to apps making their way to Windows Phone Marketplace, I can't say I have the same confidence.

Luckily for Windows Phone users, though, there are quite a few third-party developers releasing alternatives to some of the unavailable big-name apps. For instance, there is a Google+ app available on Windows Phone, only it's developed by a company called Rev Apps, not Google. And while there's no official Dropbox app in the Marketplace as of yet, there is Simple Dropbox Viewer by Cairo AG, which takes advantage of the cloud storage service's API, to give users the functionality they need.

So, to answer my own question: probably not. Windows Phone has some respectable coverage when it comes to popular titles, but it certainly doesn't have them all. And the reality is, unless the platform can gain a bit more market share, I can't be confident that it ever will.