It's been said a thousand times in a thousand ways: a smartphone operating system is only as good as the developers and third-party applications supporting it. Platforms that aren't iOS or Android are stuck in a catch-22 whereby they can't attract developers without enough retail traction... and they can't get retail traction without developers. It's a tough situation to dig out of -- and right now, Microsoft and HP are proving that every day.
That's not to say they haven't both been burning the candle at both ends trying to get their respective app stores filled with quality content. Palm earned a reputation early on for making webOS extremely accessible to developers of all kinds -- and Microsoft, of course, has a dev-friendly reputation that spans decades. By all appearances, its efforts with Windows Phone have been no different.
And if you can't get all of the great exclusive apps, you may as well shoot for the next best thing: app parity. To that end, Microsoft delivered guides, documentation, and an iOS API mapping tool back in April to court iPhone developers over to Windows Phone, and now they're doing the same thing for Android. It certainly won't mean software shops are getting the same levels of revenue from the Windows Phone Marketplace that they are from the App Store or the Android Market -- at least, not for the time being -- but if Microsoft can lower the barrier of entry enough so that it's a trivial effort for studios to port their existing apps over, the cost-benefit analysis could end up finally working out.