Services/apps mobile

Developers Optimistic on Microsoft's Nokia Buy

SAN DIEGO -- Uplinq 2013 -- Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's devices and services business was a long-time coming and could end up being a positive move for developers. (See Nokia Sells Devices Business to Microsoft .)

That was the general consensus among developers attending Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s developer conference in San Diego this week. In a very informal poll on Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) acquisition at the pre-show soiree, developers said that the merged company could play out to their benefit if Microsoft more tightly integrates devices with its operating system, leveraging its other assets like Xbox and Skype, eases OS fragmentation, and gets serious about improving the user experience.

They also said it was about damn time the two companies came together, and one ex-Microsoft employee noted that the merger had been in the works for quite some time. (See OS Watch: Nokia & Microsoft Headed to the Altar?)

For Qualcomm's part, the chip giant is the exclusive chipmaker for Windows 8, so the tie-up could mean even more traction for its Snapdragon chips. It's also an ardent Android supporter, however, so if Microsoft's other partners defect now that it's in bed with Nokia, Qualcomm likely won't be hurting either way. (See Qualcomm Preps Snapdragon Windows RT Tablets.)

Developers, on the other hand, haven't been as eager to support Windows Phone, even when Microsoft was doling out cash for their contributions. The software maker says its has more than 170,000 apps in its store, compared to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Android's more than 1 million. Even more pressing, though, is that it's missing many consumer favorites like Instagram and Dropbox.

With Nokia under its belt, Microsoft runs the risk of losing some other partners like Samsung Corp. and High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), and it needs to do everything in its power to at least retain -- and attract new -- developers.

Despite a lot of people saying Microsoft's big buy is "too little, too late," the developer camp may still be looking for an alternative OS to build for or, at least, port their apps to. As one told me, porting apps over is not that hard to do, nor that expensive. They just need a good reason to do so.

Microsoft and Nokia now have to give them that reason by proving they are stronger together through how they integrate. Wooing developers will be more important now than ever.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

MordyK 9/4/2013 | 3:47:21 PM
Re: Being a clear number three helps It really depends on  the app and whether the developer wants to simply make a copy that works on the new OS or is looking to go fully native and take deeper advantage of the uniqueness of a given OS which can effect everything from architechture through design. The architecture of an app is pretty much the same although portions may have to be rethought to take into account the differences in how OS's were designed.

Simply copying or reqriting teh same code in a new language is fairly simple althoughthe approach will leave alot to be desired. Just look at any Android app ported to the new BB OS without significant resource allocation.
kaop 9/4/2013 | 2:39:56 PM
Re: Being a clear number three helps Yes but being number three is a huge step up from the uncertainty.  The acquisition shows Microsoft is fully committed to their platform--and hopefully, convince developers that it's no longer a two-horse race.
DOShea 9/4/2013 | 11:40:01 AM
Re: Being a clear number three helps I'm not as close to the developer community as you, but it seemed like not so long ago some developers--at least those focused on business apps--always committed to develop for the iPhone first and Android later. Even if it is easy to port the apps, it still seems like there is a clear pecking order, in which case being a clear No. 3 still makes you No. 3.
Sarah Thomas 9/4/2013 | 9:13:49 AM
Re: Being a clear number three helps One games developer told me that it is pretty easy and inexpensive to port apps to another platform, especially if Microsoft will pay for them to do so. Some devs just didn't bother with Windows Phone because it didn't have the volume. They will still have to acheive that, so may be a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. 
kaop 9/4/2013 | 9:07:44 AM
Being a clear number three helps Microsoft has won the third smartphone platform race. This gives developers the confidence in porting their apps to Windows.  Now they don't have to choose which platform to go next if resources are available.  Hopefully the tighter integration, less fragmentation, and better API mapping tools will ensure Microsoft devices and services to work seamlessly.
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