The asterisk below, by the way, refers to the fact that I'm excluding outright novelties, jokes, games, themes and utilities specific to Android OS. And picks are from the UK-accessible Android Play Store - local highlights may be different in other parts of the world.
The top 10 Android commercial applications* as at January 17th , 2013:
|App name||Description||Symbian||Windows Phone 8|
|1||SwiftKey 3||Replacement keyboard with extra prediction ability||The Belle Refresh and FP2 keyboards are pretty good. Swype available too, though nothing as polished as SwiftKey.||No replacement keyboards are allowed, but the default one is very good.|
|2||TuneIn Radio Pro||Internet Radio, comprehensive world directory||Used to be available for Symbian but presumably withdrawn because of compatibility issues. The free Nokia Internet Radio gives access to 20,000 or so world radio stations though.||Available and free for Windows Phone.|
|3||Poweramp Full||Music player, with gapless playback and many EQ options||The Symbian Music player is very high quality, with EQ options/customisations. No gapless playback though.||At least two music players built-in, plus dozens of third party, some with gapless playback etc.|
|4||Camera ZOOM FX||Camera application with plenty of options and integrated effects suite||Many equivalent third party camera FX options, both as standalone apps and with camera functions built-in.||An abundance of third party camera and FX apps, plus Windows Phone 8 has 'Lenses' built-in, which is fully extensible.|
|5||OfficeSuite Pro||Document viewing and editing suite, PDF viewing and integration with Dropbox, Box.net, SkyDrive and Google Drive||Depending on device and firmware, various combinations of Quickoffice and Microsoft Office Mobile built-in. Some units have both, somewhat confusingly! At least two other third party office suites available for purchase, too.||Pocket Office built into Windows Phone 8 and well integrated in terms of sharing/SkyDrive etc.|
|6||Tapatalk Forum||Allows easier browsing of Internet forums, replying to messages, etc.||Nothing available.||Board Express for Tapatalk is a full client for all compatible forums.|
|7||Smart Tools||Collection of small real world utilities (measuring aids, converters, magnifiers, etc.)||As you might expect, hundreds of similar utilities and collections.||Ditto. Lots of available options.|
|8||Flightradar24 Pro||Shows air traffic around the world in real time||FlightAware is free and roughly equivalent, though not as polished.||FlightAware again, quite slick on Windows Phone.|
|9||Endomondo Sports Tracker||GPS and acclerometer-driven sports stats, uploading and sharing system||Available, along with Sports Tracker, the original app that kick started this whole genre on smartphones, and both free.||Ditto and free again. Endomondo, plus Sports Tracker, plus other options too.|
|10||Accuweather Platinum||Glossy and comprehensive weather forecasting||Available in limited form, but Nokia Weather, qooWeather and several other free options impress far more.||Available, plus a dozen other free, polished alternatives.|
No major holes to be seen here, other than Tapatalk for Symbian. Let's look now at the more numerous (and arguably higher profile) top 20 Android freeware applications* as at January 17th , 2013:
|App name||Description||Symbian||Windows Phone 8|
|1||Facebook client||Serviceable Facebook is built-in, plus four other polished third party clients.||Basic Facebook support built into the OS and People hub, plus a Microsoft-written full Facebook client and a number of third party offerings.|
|2||Instant messaging, sharing facilities||Available.||Available.|
|3||Skype||Instant messaging, VoIP, video calling||Available, though no video calling support.||Available and fully functioned, though note that integration with the OS isn't yet perfect. Microsoft own Skype and are 'working on it'.|
|4||eBay||Optimised eBay client||No client, reliant on the mobile web site.||Available.|
|5||BBC iPlayer||TV/radio catchup client for the BBC in the UK||Available, with full DRMed downloads for offline watching, etc.||Not available. Yet.|
|6||Facebook Messenger||Instant messaging to Facebook friends
||Not available, some IM clients allow access.||Not available, though many third party chat clients allow access. And some support built into platform.|
|7||Twitter client||Serviceable Twitter client is built-in, plus a number of excellent third party clients, some free.||Available, plus basic Twitter support built into the OS, plus a number of excellent third party clients.|
|8||TV Catchup||UK TV client (dubious legality?)||Not available.||Not available.|
|9||Adobe Reader||PDF reader||Built into the OS.||'PDF Reader' free and supplied by Microsoft. Hopefully built into the OS in future versions.|
|10||Low resolution photo sharing social network client||Not available.||Not available.|
|11||Viber||Instant messaging and VoIP||Available, though only messaging and sharing, no calling support.||Available, though only messaging and sharing, no calling support so far - it's 'coming soon'.
|12||Gumtree||Gumtree client||Not available.||Not available.|
|13||Met Office||Weather forecasting||Several free weather forecasting applications, including one built into Nokia Maps Suite.||Available.|
|14||AntiVirus Free||As it sounds. Should it even need to exist?||Not needed. Though a number of companies have tried to make a quick dollar on the idea(!)||Not needed. Again. Sigh...|
|15||Amazon Kindle||ebook reading, cloud-synced||Not available.||Available.|
|16||BBC News||Optimised client for the BBC News web site||Widget and feeds built into Symbian OS.||Available.|
|17||Calorie Counter||Keep track of diet, etc.||Available.||Numerous third party applications around this name and theme.|
|18||Tiny Flashlight||Use your phone's LED flash as a torch||Built into the OS.||Numerous third party apps available.|
|19||Google Play Music||Play Music client to access all your uploaded music||Not available.||No official app, but the free CloudMuzik is a full Play Music client.|
|20||Sky Sports Live Football||Client for Sky's football news service||Not available.||Available.|
By my reckoning, I make that around a quarter of the top 20 Android freeware applications aren't available for Windows Phone 8, of which the highest profile are BBC iPlayer and Instagram. Personally, I remain scornful of the latter (though I know many like it), but iPlayer would certainly be handy.
The Symbian freeware app scene is somewhat bleaker, with 8 of the top 20 not available in any form and, with the current state of the Symbian ecosystem, perhaps not much chance of updates and new applications arriving.
However, overall, I still reject the assertion that "There are no apps for Symbian/Windows Phone" [delete as applicable] - there clearly are quite a lot for each, with Windows Phone 8 having the greatest future proofing, of course.
Notable too is that the table above is starting from the point of view of an Android bestseller list - there are, for example, a number of Symbian applications (Profile Scheduler springs to mind) for which there's no Android equivalent, so 'Not available' labels would be present in the Android column for a reverse table. Not to mention core OS functions (again, see profiles as a good example).
Of course, when people talk about 'lack of apps' for a platform, what they really mean is that their favourite store or niche online service isn't represented yet. I've written many times about there being a 'bookmark for that' (article update coming soon!), i.e. using HTML5, mobile-optimised web pages is arguably just as valid an approach and one that works well on any platform. Whatever store or service is involved, they'll usually have a mobile web presence.
Comments welcome. Have you come across any showstopping app 'holes' in your chosen smartphone platform? At what point would Symbian stop being a viable app ecosystem for you? And has Windows Phone 8's application availability reached the tipping point for you yet? - Instagram aside, I can't see many major omissions....