Will Microsoft still struggle to get more Windows Phone apps after Nokia deal?

Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer helped to broker the Nokia acquisition.

Microsoft's recently announced deal to acquire Nokia's Devices and Services division shows the company is serious about competing with Apple and Google in the smartphone industry. However, even though Microsoft will be making its own Windows Phone devices after the Nokia deal is completed, it may still struggle to get mobile app developers to come over to make software for the operating system.

A new article from Bloomberg claims to have interviewed a dozen mobile app developers and they state that the current lack of users for Windows Phone is keeping them away. An example is cited by William Hurley, the co-founder of Chaotic Moon. While the company has released Windows Phone apps in the past, Hurley said that in-game app purchases for its free-to-play game Dragon Academy generate more revenue in an hour for the iOS version than all of the money made by Chaotic Moon’s Windows Phone apps in a year. Hurley states, "What basket would you put your eggs?”

Not every developer believes that scenario. David Peroutka of Hexage, which has released a number of Windows Phone games along with iOS and Android versions, told Neowin in an email today, "We don't see the [Nokia] acquisition as a major reason to support or not to support the Windows Phone platform. The user base for Windows Phone is rapidly increasing (especially in Europe) and we're already seeing very strong downloads and conversions -- which will bring more developers to the platform eventually."

Jaakko Maaniemi of developer 10tons told Neowin that both Microsoft and Nokia have offered the company "significant marketing and technical support" for its Windows Phone 8 apps. He added, "Microsoft, as the platform holder, has obviously been able to do a bit more for us than Nokia as a single device manufacturer, so I don't think Nokia leaving the game will impact us much. If anything, Microsoft might be able to help out on technical stuff even more in the future, as they will also have in-house hardware manufacturing."

Windows Phone has 175,000 apps, compared to 900,000 for iOS and more than a million for Android. Microsoft has tried to get major apps to come to the platform by paying for their development or, in the case of the official Facebook app, making big-name apps themselves. Microsoft's Windows Phone VP Joe Belfiore claims that after the company takes over Nokia's smartphone business, it will help speed up the development of new phones. Microsoft also plans to launch more app promotions, such as pre-installing apps in the devices.

Earlier this week, Nokia itself announced it was expanding its DVLUP program, designed to encourage the creation of more Windows Phone apps, beyond the U.S. and Canada to over 20 more countries. The program uses a "gamification" method to spur developers by awarding them with things like XP and badges if they complete different challenges.

Many developers want Microsoft to succeed, if only so they can have a viable third app platform besides iOS and Android. One suggestion is for Microsoft to help make apps cost less to develop, and another is for the company to bring in more enterprise-themed apps, since a lot of companies already use Windows at the workplace.

Image via Nokia

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