That’s the question following the city of Seattle’s release of a new “Find It, Fix It” app that lets citizens report problems in need of attention, including potholes, graffiti and abandoned vehicles. The app is available on Android and iPhone, but not Windows Phone.
Essex Porter, a KIRO-TV reporter and Windows Phone user who has highlighted this type of omission in the past, raised the question on Twitter, sparking an interesting debate with Curt Woodward of Xconomy, among others.
— Curt Woodward (@curtwoodward) August 14, 2013
Despite Windows Phone’s low worldwide market share, there are some 40,000 Microsoft employees in the Seattle region, plus contractors, partners and family who are more likely to carry Windows Phones than people elsewhere in the country. The concentration of Windows Phones here no doubt rivals the market share in Finland, home to Nokia.
But it in this case, it turns out the city was essentially precluded from making a Windows Phone app, in a way that illustrates the larger challenge Microsoft faces.
Erin Devoto, the city of Seattle’s chief technology officer, explained via phone this afternoon that the citizen reporting technology is based on a customer relationship management system from Motorola, and the only app developer positioned to combine that Motorola CRM with mobile services, Connected Bits LLC, wasn’t able to make the app for Windows Phone.
The city’s decision to go with that Motorola CRM dates back several years, to a previous city administration — before Windows Phone was on the market.
“I totally support Windows, but in this particular case, the stars didn’t align,” Devoto said.
This is also interesting: Despite the region’s large population of Microsoft employees, Devoto noted that the city currently sees hardly any mobile web traffic from Windows Phone.
However, the city is a big user of Microsoft technology in general, and it’s currently taking steps to move to Office 365, upgrading from its existing Microsoft Exchange installation.
But is there an obligation beyond that for the city to support a hometown tech brand? No, obligation isn’t quite the right word, Devoto said.
“I certainly believe in Microsoft products in general,” she said. “From an enterprise-wide approach, I think they are the best solution right now. I do believe in also partnering with them since they are right here and so many of their employees live here.”
And finally, here’s a glimmer of hope for KIRO-TV’s Porter, me and other Windows Phone users: Devoto says the city would be open to considering a Windows Phone app in future phases of the “Find It, Fix It” rollout — if they see enough interest.
In the meantime, all of you Android and iOS people can get the app here.