updated 03:55 pm EDT, Wed July 14, 2010
MS giving devs cash incentives to support WP7
Microsoft ended speculation today and confirmed that it's paying mobile developers to write Windows Phone 7 apps. Senior director Todd Brix explained that it included both material support, such as software, test phones and marketing, as well as minimum revenue guarantees. If apps fail to perform in the early stages, Microsoft will make up the difference over a certain period.
Brix wouldn't say how much money Microsoft was devoting to the project, although it would be larger than what was used in the past to court Windows Mobile developers. He also didn't address whether the company was chasing after iPhone developers in particular, although he was quick to say the money was being spent on "developers big and small."
The financial motivators are virtually necessary at this stage, as the major redesign of Windows Phone 7 will render virtually all Windows Mobile apps incompatible without at least some major changes. Any gains in the number of Microsoft-friendly mobile apps will have been erased and will leave Microsoft with a relatively empty store compared to its rivals. Apple and Google have at least 225,000 and 50,000 apps respectively, and even companies that have fared poorly in courting outside developers, such as Palm and RIM, have still had a few thousand apps in their younger app stores.
Outside of creating Windows Marketplace for its phones, Microsoft hasn't had a good track record in recent months. Outside of promising looser guidelines than with Apple, it has struggled to get any starring apps to attract others and has produced only a trickle of apps for the Zune HD. Despite sharing platform similarities, the Zune HD won't support Windows Phone 7 or its apps.