Steve Ballmer, he of the “Developers! Developers!” chant, now heads up a company that mobile app developers have seemingly forgotten. It’s quite apparent that as Microsoft’s position in the mobile landscape continues to shrink, most developers are focused exclusively on the iPhone and Android. Compounding matters is that Microsoft’s answer to devices like the iPhone and the Motorola Droid is a new OS dubbed Windows Phone 7 that won’t even be out until the end of 2010.
And even if we assume that Windows Phone 7 will be revolutionary (hint, it won’t), Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do in terms of creating a significant mobile app store with a decent amount of titles. That said, the folks in Redmond have taken to paying developers to develop apps for its upcoming platform.
Microsoft Corp. is paying developers to build mobile applications for its Windows Phone 7 system to help it narrow a lead by rival products from Apple Inc. and Google Inc.
The company is providing financial incentives ranging from free tools and test handsets to funds for software development and marketing, said Todd Brix, a senior director at Microsoft who works with app developers. In some cases, Microsoft is providing revenue guarantees, and will make up the difference if apps don’t sell as well as expected, he said.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, they won’t be able to buy themselves out of this pickle. While paying developers and guaranteeing x amount dollars in revenue may certainly attract some folks, Microsoft’s efforts are akin to emptying out the ocean with a teaspoon. The ground they have to cover is seemingly insurmountable, with both the Android and iOS platforms making strides on a consistent basis.
Todd Brix, a senior director at Microsoft, observes:
We are investing a lot to attract developers big and small to Windows Phone 7 to let them understand what the opportunity is and provide as many resources as we can to help them be successful on our platform. We’re open for business and we want to work with them.
That’s all well and good, but the question is if developers want to work with Microsoft.