Yes, there is such a thing as a Windows Phone app store. If this is the first time you have heard of Microsoft’s library of apps for its Windows Phone, don’t feel too bad-few people have heard of it as well. In fact, Microsoft feels that it has so few brand name apps for its app store that it is willing to pay mobile app publishers to roll out Windows Phone versions of their apps.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? You can’t fault Microsoft for not trying though. It has been struggling for years to carve out its own slice of the huge global smart phone mobile market which has been dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS Microsoft teamed up last year with the giant mobile maker Nokia to try and challenge its rivals.
The latest product of this partnership is the Lumia 900. While this is not the first fruit of the Nokia-Microsoft collaboration, it is considered as the first true test of their partnership. It is make or breat time. Sadly, unlike the Google Android and Apple iPhone, the Windows Phone app store isn’t stocked with a huge inventory of branded apps with very loyal followings. And it looks like the situation will stay that way since many big app developers are reluctant about dropping substantial resources for a Windows Phone port when the prospect of success is uncertain. They have a point, the Windows phone app market is comparatively small and quite unproven.
What can Microsoft do? What can a cash-rich huge software giant do in this situation? Buy your way in, of course. Microsoft is offering developers of well-known branded apps financing assistance for Windows Phone versions of their app offerings. The cash assistance range from $60,000 USD to $600,000 USD. The pricing depends on how complex the app is. This is unheard of since neither Android and Apple pay app developers to make apps for their respective app libraries. It looks like the subsidized development approach is getting some key companies.
Foursquare, for example, did not hesitate to take Microsoft’s underwriting assistance. It makes sense for Foursquare to do this. In addition to having its risk of servicing an otherwise small market, it also feeds into the strategic goals of Foursquare. It is a social network and needs to, by definition, be available on the major platforms. In Foursquare’s case, Microsoft ponied up the cash to have a third-party developer come up with the Microsoft port of their app. Foursquare uses inhouse developers for the Blackberry, Android, and iPhone versions of their app.