Nokia woos developers to Windows Phone with app funding, marketing

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) reportedly is offering developers incentives including application project funding, marketing muscle and software pre-install deals in an effort to build up a thriving app ecosystem around its first smartphones powered by Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone operating system.

Citing three sources involved in the negotiations, reports Nokia has made a number of overtures to convince developers to build apps for its first Windows Phone device, codenamed "Sea Ray" and expected to hit retail within the next few months. Nokia executives are currently field-testing the smartphone, sources add. A Nokia spokesperson confirmed the company offers app developers a variety of incentives, include programming assistance and marketing, adding "We do not disclose these arrangements, as each is different."

Earlier this year, Nokia inked a broad strategic partnership with Microsoft that positions Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform moving forward. Days later, the handset maker moved to make amends with Symbian developers cast adrift by the transition, promising members of its Launchpad developer program a free Nokia E7 device as well as a Windows Phone-based Nokia smartphone as soon as such a product becomes available. Nokia also vowed free tech support, free training sessions and free admission to its Nokia World/Nokia Developer Summit event.

Microsoft first unveiled Windows Phone in Feb. 2010--several months later, reports surfaced indicating the software giant was offering successful iPhone game developers "substantial" cash incentives to port their applications to the platform. Complicating Microsoft's efforts: The substantial costs associated with reworking iPhone applications written in C++ to Silverlight or XNA, the two frameworks underpinning the Windows Phone platform.

Todd Moore, the developer behind sleep-companion app White Noise, tells he received a free Windows Phone device from Microsoft in exchange for porting his app to the platform. Moore says the Windows Phone edition of White Noise has fared poorly compared to versions optimized for rival operating systems and has not yielded revenues to support ongoing development of the app. "It was kind of a horrible experience," Moore said. "The whole thing was just a complete mess. I had to get on the phone with Microsoft just to get my app published."

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