Small Change for Windows Phone Apps

8:05 AM -- In an effort to attract developers to the Windows Phone operating system, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) have agreed to each invest up to €9 million (US$12 million) in a mobile applications development program, called AppCampus, at Aalto University in Finland over the next three years.

Now, is it just me, or is €18 million ($24 million) not a lot of money for these tech giants? I would have thought they would pour much more into apps development -- they really need to.

As Reuters reports, an indication of what Microsoft and Nokia are up against comes from a recent survey of around 2,000 apps developers by Appcelerator and IDC : Only 37 percent of apps developers surveyed were "very interested" in developing for the Windows Phone 7 (WP7) platform, which compares with 89 percent for Apple's iOS and 79 percent for Android smartphones.

The problem is that while sales of Windows Phone smartphones, such Nokia's Lumia, continue to lag behind those of Apple and Android devices, attracting developers will be difficult. And that's why Microsoft and Nokia need to invest in a program such as AppCampus.

There are around 70,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace now and 300 new titles arrive each day, according to a Nokia spokeswoman. That's a long way from the more than 500,000 apps available in Apple's App Store, however.

For Nokia, this is the first time the Finnish phone maker has spent on apps developers for Windows Phone, although it should be noted that the investment also covers development for Nokia's other phone platforms, Symbian and Series 40.

But it probably won't be the last time. While it's great to see Nokia and Microsoft invest in Finland and encourage startups and developers there, it will take more than $24 million at a college in one European country to get developers as excited about WP7 as they are about iOS and Android smarpthones and tablets.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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