Microsoft’s $7.2 billion Nokia bet not luring apps


Consider Tommy Palm and Jeff Smith. Palm, who oversees development at smartphone-game maker, and Smith, who runs music-application maker Smule Inc., have long avoided building apps for devices using Microsoft’s Windows Phone software. Closer ties with Nokia haven’t swayed them. Both say even after the acquisition closes, Microsoft still won’t have enough users to make it worth the time and money.

You could see this coming a mile away, but still, uh-oh.

  • Jack

    Yup. Of all the uphill battles Microsoft wants to fight, this is probably the steepest. Which must really sting for a company that used to pride itself on developers, developers, developers.

    • Colin Mattson

      Microsoft more or less “developers developers developers”ed themselves into this mess.

      Windows Phone is pretty damn nice from the user side, but from the developer side they’ve gone too far in trying to be developer-friendly. There are too many interface paradigms and too many development paths. Within that sea of options, there’s not enough clear guidance, and there’s little help for people who aren’t already developing on Windows.

      On top of all that, Visual Studio is still Visual Studio and the Windows Phone emulator is dog slow. I’m not saying Xcode’s perfect (lord knows it ain’t), but it’s a lot less likely to end with developer brain matter splattered all over a desk.

      • EzraWard

        “There are too many interface paradigms and too many development paths. Within that sea of options, there’s not enough clear guidance, and there’s little help for people who aren’t already developing on Windows” This is untrue. There are multitudes of resources from developers who’ve never programmed for Windows Phone before both from Microsoft and others. There are even porting guides if you want to understand the best way to move things over from an already existing app. In terms of interface paradigms, there are really only two types of base apps: Panorama, and Pivot. Are there some more that I’m missing? In terms of the base app interface, there’s not a lot of variety. Most of the variety comes from developers extending those base interfaces.

        • Mr. Obvious

          Colin is correct. On iOS, it’s clear how to develop an app. They are all written in Objective C and use the same APIs. The code samples on Apple’s developer web site and on stackoverflow just work.

          On Windows/Windows Phone, there are numerous languages and API sets to consider before writing anything. Microsoft points developers to one for awhile, then abandons them — Visual Basic, COM, Silverlight.

          Microsoft should pick one language and API set, and post 10 different robust sample app projects (database, 2D game, 3D game, word processor, paint, spreadsheet, educational, animation, video, browser), compilable for Windows Phone, Windows RT, Windows and Xbox. Developers could use those as starting points and build on them.

          • EzraWard

            We’re talking about WP, so I’ll stick to that. Windows Phone is very consistent. It’s 100% C# or VB and then XAML for the interface. You still may be able to write apps in Silverlight, but that’s a WP7 thing and should be disappearing.

          • Mr. Obvious

            Let’s agree that what you just said is exactly my point, other than your sentence “Windows Phone is very consistent.”

          • Mr. Obvious

            Windows Mobile 6.5 (spring 2010) developers who ported their apps to Silverlight for Windows Phone 7 (fall 2010) must be absolutely giddy with how consistent Windows Phone 8 (2012) was. Three completely different phone OSes in 3 years. It’s totally shocking nobody is writing apps for Windows Phone 8. /s

          • EzraWard

            There’s far more to say about this subject, but I’ll leave it here: Windows Phone 8 is very easy to develop for and very similar to the Windows 8/RT APIs, and likely to be released Xbox app APIs.

  • EzraWard

    I don’t recognize and I’m only faintly familiar with Smule. I saw some faintly more familiar names in the article itself. Maybe a more rounded article could see why the folks that HAVE developed for Windows Phone continue to do so. Also, maybe grab some more mainstream companies/dev teams.

    • matthewmaurice

      Define “more rounded.” The focus of the article wasn’t that no one’s writing Windows Phone applications, but that developers that weren’t doing so before don’t seem to be any more interested now.

      • EzraWard

        For example, Wells Fargo recently released an app for Windows Phone. Why did they do it? Why did they feel a need to release an app? That’s what I meant.

    • Carrot65

      King makes Candy Crush, maybe you’ve heard of it? The developers in the article are all big names and plenty mainstream.

      • EzraWard

        I have heard of Candy Crush. Now I know. The other game companies I’ve never heard of.

  • matthewmaurice

    “Belfiore said Microsoft will do more promotions for developers once it owns Nokia, including having apps pre-installed on phones” Hmm, interesting idea–kinda like the opposite of Microsoft “Signature service” on PCs. I’m sure that’s going to work out well.

  • Tvaddic

    This wasn’t about getting apps, this was about Nokia making android phones and every manufacturer would have windows phones as an after thought.

  • GTWilson

    They scoffed at and ignored Apple and Google until two large and mature ecosystems with devices at every price point sprang up. Then and only then did they get off their asses and do something.

    You have to be seriously delusional to believe they can overcome such a blunder and be anything more than a distant third place.