Microsoft Gets Serious About Mobile, Pays For Apps on WP7
Microsoft just released Windows Phone 7 along with the rollout of hundreds of partnership apps from some pretty big names in mobile. Major names like Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Yelp, and more were all on tap to make WP7 more than just another mobile operating system, but also a big contender in the mobile game.
Having all of those apps lined up and ready to go at the launch of WP7 was no coincidence. Microsoft planned it that way. Those four mentioned plus others all have one thing in common: the Redmond giant paid for them to be there.
=== Apps are the new make or break for smart mobile
It used to be that having the best mobile platform and the most powerful smart phone was the key to success in the mobile arena. Not any more. Now, you must also have a key lineup of useful applications that users want or your phone will be dead in the water.
Microsoft learned this the hard way, rolling out previous Windows phone options without much developer support or much of an app lineup beyond the core built-ins on the phone. When entering a market that is dominated by Apple and its thousands of useful, available apps.. that doesn't cut it.
So today, it's not uncommon for mobile builders to roll out their latest and greatest after having paid several key app developers to be there with them. Apple does it, Nokia does it, it's rumored that Google did it, and now Microsoft has too.
=== How much is involved?
This is a good question and, in the case of Windows Phone 7, the true dollar figure spent to get all of these marquee apps on board is under wraps. PopCap, which makes Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies ñ both popular mobile market games ñ has publicly stated that they were offered $100,000 to make sure they had one of their games ready to roll when WP7 released. The company declined the money because they weren't sure they could get it done on time. They did, to their credit, and they expect to make much more than that $100,000 in sales thanks to their hard work.
Most of the time, smart phone makers will approach app developers and offer to subsidize development, buy a license and develop it themselves (MS did this on several apps), or offer sales guarantees, underwriting sales to guarantee income for the developer. Often, app developers are more than happy to take up the deal since they'd likely be building an app for the new platform eventually anyway.
Foursquare, the popular social networking and geo-location app, was approached by Microsoft and accepted the deal. Their VP of Mobile Partnership, Holger Luedorf, has said that if MS hadn't come to them, they wouldn't have built a WP7 app until the phone had sold at least 10 million units.
=== Why this is a good sign from Microsoft
The fact that Microsoft is willing to put up this money and really go for broke with their new mobile platform says volumes about their new commitment. They've lagged way behind Apple and others in the mobile marketplace and appear to be serious about catching up. Rolling out a brand new phone and operating system with over 1,600 apps ready to rock at the same time is unprecedented and will, in all likelihood, propel the WP7 to a good position in the market and speed user acceptance of the platform.
Which is exactly what Microsoft needs if they're going to stay in the game of future computing.