Microsoft Paying For Smartphone Apps
April 6, 2012

Microsoft Paying For Smartphone Apps

Lee Rannals for

According to a report in the New York Times, Microsoft is paying developers to create new apps for its mobile operating system.

The report says Microsoft is targeting developers of some of the most popular apps on Android and iOS devices, including Foursquare and Cheezburger Network.

The first Windows Phone-powered Nokia device hit U.S. shelves earlier this year on T-Mobile's network.  Now, Microsoft is trying to step up its game by getting more apps for its operating system to try and compete with Google and Apple.

According to the report, Microsoft is offering anywhere from $60,000 to $600,000 to developers to help build apps.

The Times said the makers of the Foursquare app admitted they could never have built a version for Windows Phone had Microsoft not contributed money toward its development.

"We have very limited resources, and we have to put them toward the platforms with the biggest bang for our buck," Holger Luedorf, Foursquare's head of business development, told the Times. "But we are a social network and it is incredibly important for us to be available on every platform."

Ben Huh, chief executive of the Cheezburger Network, told the Times that Microsoft's market share was too small to spend resources on developing a Windows Phone app.

However, Microsoft approached the company and he told the Times "they took care of everything."

The report also said that Microsoft is trying to lure smaller developers into creating apps by offering free phones, and promising prime spots in its app store.

Microsoft has over 70,000 apps in the app store, including Netflix, YouTube, the Weather Channel, Amazon Kindle and Fruit Ninja.  This compares to Apple, which has over 600,000 apps, and Android with nearly 400,000 apps.

The Times said that often Microsoft's problem is that it is a low-priority for app developers.

It gave Sonos as an example, which makes apps for Apple and Android devices that allow customers to control their house audio systems from a smartphone or tablet.

John MacFarlane, chief executive of Sonos, told the Times that Sonos is not sure when it will release a Windows Phone app, but that he believes Microsoft will "be a player" in the smartphone industry.

The Times even reported that itself has been headhunted by Microsoft to build a news app, with a spokeswoman declining to say whether the company was offered money, but saying "Microsoft provides assistance to help ensure that the app is best in class."

According to the report, Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research, said that Microsoft's weakness in apps was not having a big enough audience of users.

“Developers go where the money is, and the money is where people are,” she told the Times.