updated 10:15 am EDT, Fri April 6, 2012
Windows Phone app subsidies now more direct
Microsoft's financial support of Windows Phone ports of iOS and Android apps is more direct than once thought, an investigation uncovered late Thursday. While the full extent of the catalog isn't known, the New York Times found that Microsoft paid outright to cover development of Foursquare's Windows Phone app and did the same for a third-party making a dedicated Facebook app on the social network's behalf. Rovio's sudden reversal on Angry Birds Space has raised suspicions that Microsoft, after learning Rovio wouldn't voluntarily port to Windows Phone, quickly offered cash.
Microsoft was recently reported as having passed 82,000 apps published in the Windows Phone Marketplace and has seen development demand accelerate. However, it faces the same problem that Google has with Android, where a disproportionately significant amount of apps are spam, fake, or clone apps. It recently had to tighten app submission limits after numerous developers flooded the Marketplace.
AT&T is playing its own part. The Nokia Lumia 900 launch will see it train staff on apps to provide equivalents if a customer complains that the apps they want don't exist on Windows Phones.
The initiatives still underscore Microsoft's urgent determination to remain relevant in the smartphone space. Windows Phone and Windows Mobile combined are continuing to shrink, in part as many buyers don't see the apps they want. If Windows Phone doesn't thrive, the company risks watching itself being eclipsed as Android and iOS become larger computing platforms than the Windows PC.