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