Microsoft has a plan to beef up its Windows Phone catalog of apps. And it involves cash — lots of cold, hard cash.
In the mobile world, Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is a toddler compared to the mature ecosystems of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. That means the number of apps on offer in the Windows Marketplace is just a fraction of those available from its counterparts — it’s officially 65,000 to iOS’s 600,000 and Android’s 500,000. Some counts put it higher.
When I reviewed the Nokia Lumia 900 smartphone earlier this week, I was surprised at how many apps are on offer from major brands like Twitter, Facebook and eBay.
What I didn’t realize was that Microsoft is paying some of those companies to develop apps for the Windows Phone, since they normally wouldn’t dedicate the resources to create apps for a platform that has less than 4% market share.
Take Foursquare. The service’s Windows Phone app is a beautiful example of how the platform’s interface, called Metro, can shine. Fonts are large, type pops and the menus have a fluid movement that makes the whole experience come alive.
But Foursquare didn’t create the app. Microsoft paid an outside company to do it, The New York Times reports. Foursquare was involved — and the app is listed in the Marketplace as coming from “Foursquare Labs, Inc.” — but since the growing startup has limited resources, it spends most of its time fishing where the fish are: iOS and Android.
Foursquare is not alone. Microsoft is said to be paying developers anywhere between $60,000 and $600,000 to create apps, presumably for well-known or rising brands, to shore up its app catalog.
With Nokia as a partner, Microsoft has help. The “Nokia Collection” in the Windows Marketplace has even more big names, offering apps from CNN, ESPN and Univision. However, all of the apps are made by Nokia, not the companies themselves.
What Microsoft and Nokia are doing may seem a little desperate, but it’s actually not that surprising. Windows Phone is playing catch-up, after all, and it needs to everything it can to close the “app gap” between its platform and the others, appearances be damned. If an app is in the catalog, and customers like it, does it matter who made it and why?
That’s up to you. Does the fact that Microsoft directly finances some of the apps in the Windows Marketplace matter to you? Would it influence whether or not you’d buy a Windows Phone? Have your say in the comments.
BONUS: The Nokia Lumia 900
Nokia Lumia 900, Home Screen
The Nokia Lumia 900 ($99.99 from AT&T with contract) is the first Windows Phone to have a high-speed LTE network connection.
The Lumia 900 has a smooth-yet-grippy polycarbonate shell that comes in blue or black. A white version will be available April 22.
The Windows Phone version of Foursquare is a great example of how the Metro interface is vastly different from the Android and iPhone experiences
A comparison of the CNN apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Note how on the Windows Phone version the “chrome” (network icons, the time, etc.) is absent and headlines pop larger. Also, Nokia created this app, not CNN.
Vs. iPhone in Sunlight
Here’s how the Lumia 900 looks next to an iPhone in sunlight. The Lumia uses special optics to reduce reflectivity.
The Nokia Drive app is a free turn-by-turn navigator for Windows Phone.
These two pics, taken seconds apart, show how the live tiles work.
Office for Windows Phone
Office apps come pre-installed on the Lumia 900, letting you view and edit documents on the fly.
New York Times Web Page
Here’s how Internet Explorer for Windows Phone renders a typical web page.
Mashable has no official Windows Phone app, but a few third parties have created apps of their own.
Windows Phone Hero?
Will the Nokia Lumia 900 take the Windows Phone platform to new heights? Stay tuned.
Via Mashable: http://www.mashable.com