More details on how MS went about getting developers to build Windows Phone apps have surfaced. Apparently Popcap (makers of Bejeweled and Plants v Zombies) was offered $100k to bring their games to Windows Phone – and they turned it down. There were strings attached to the money and they felt that they’d make more money back with a successful product line than with the strings. Ultimately, they brought Bejeweled to WP7 on their own.

Also, Foursquare was not going to launch their app until there were 10m Windows Phones in circulation, but MS paid for the costs of development…and the app was developed. A source stated that “Microsoft ended up building or funding most of the top apps on Windows Phone 7 including Facebook, Twitter, IMDb, Amazon and Yelp, though Microsoft didn’t consider it buying off developers.” The way MS sees it, if they were missing these apps then they don’t have a complete phone to bring to the market so they didn’t view their actions as buying developers but rather as an act of completing their platform.

So let’s see if their strategy paid off. I do agree with them though – having top tier apps makes the phone complete and provides the appearance that there’s a real contender out there with top hardware and software to match. What do you think of the strategy?

Via gigaom


  1. I tend to agree with MS to some extent here. A platform launch with no apps is pretty much doomed to failure. So they offered money to give developers incentives – that’s not really a big deal if they’re trying to make sure their new mobile platform succeeds. If the tables were reversed and Apple or Google were trying to compete against MS and were paying people to develop apps, it would probably be a non-story or a case of cheering for them in a lot of circles. As for Foursquare’s response, I seriously doubt they would wait for 10M users on the platform. That kind of negates their very purpose for existing. They might not have done it so quickly, but I don’t think it would have had to cross a 10M user threshold before they started.

    Anyway, I think it’s a good idea for them. They’re really, really coming from behind on the whole smartphone platform and as good as the experience may be just using the phone, it’s like most OS’ – if you don’t have apps, why use the OS?

  2. It was necessary & the cost of coming to the NEW mobile OS game as late as they did. If they were smart they would also do the same for the most downloaded apps from the old marketplace.

  3. This is a non-story. Everybody does it in other fields, so the MS Phone is nothing different. Build the apps and the customers will come, not the other way around.

  4. FYI – there are a ton of contests running right now to give people an opportunity to win a WP7 phone. I really don’t see the big deal about paying developers to build key apps. It’s pretty safe to say that without any of those apps, the platform would really be doomed. I think it’s got a benefit in that it uses a comfortable language for a lot of developers, has a very standard set of specs, and relatively clear Marketplace guidelines. I’m not saying that it’s the best or beats Android/iPhone, just that there are some things going for it. Admittedly market share is not one of those things right now. If you were trying to sell your own product and make inroads against some strong competition, you’d do similar things. Retail stores have product placement fees if a company wants prime shelf space. There’s advertising or taste testing or even trying to bring others on board for your product and make things that tie into it. (See the Keurig by Green Mountain Coffee – they have other coffee makers getting on board with them to help advance that product. How many of those received some form of incentive? Got me, but I’m sure they got something. Starbucks will likely do something similar with their upcoming brand.)

    I think the point we’re making is that this isn’t really all that big news. MS is trying to make progress and is using their resources to accomplish that goal.

  5. At this stage of the smartphone market you’d be a fool to not know the importance of credible and popular apps/games to selling your phones/OS. Microsoft is right to do this and they have the money to spend. Its not just about having the money but spending it wisely.

    Hey Microsoft pay me and my team 100K and i’ll build you the greatest social app EVER!

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