Selling a smartphone is no longer just about the hardware or operating system. Consumers want to know how many apps your phone can access – and what they are. To build a compelling app offering, it helps to have a ton of developers willing to partner.
That can be tough, especially if your operating system is new. Developers are taking a risk by building an app before there’s anyone to buy it. Here’s how some of the biggest mobile movers and shakers are trying to woo developers into creating compelling apps.
Earlier this week Research in Motion (RIM) unveiled their new operating system, BlackBerry 10. The OS is a complete refresh from previous efforts and early reports are overall upbeat. But BlackBerry 10 has no backwards compatibility, so apps written for previous versions will have to be completely re-written.
To convince developers to do that, RIM is offering:
Free Handsets: RIM will distribute 2,000 development handsets running a non-final version of the BlackBerry 10 to select developers. Once commercial devices with final BlackBerry 10 OS become available, developers will be able to trade in their development devices for commercial products.
Cash! RIM is guaranteeing developers $10,000 per BlackBerry 10 app, with a few stipulations. The apps must pass RIM’s quality test, and must also have generated $1,000 via RIM’s app market. If both these requirements are met, RIM guarantees that after one year each app will earn at least $10,000 in revenue. If the app falls short, RIM will make up the difference.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone is a relatively new player in the smartphone space, only having been on the market since 2010. So far, Windows Phone offers roughly 70,000 apps, compared to Apple's 500,000 and Android's 450,000, according to PC World. How Microsoft plans to increase that number:
Free Phones: Microsoft partner Nokia last year promised to give away 25,000 Lumia 800s, a handset that runs Windows Phone, to developers. They’ve distributed 17,000 of these devices so far.
Google’s Android is in a comfortable spot, with 51% of the smartphone market. But they’re still working hard to win over developers:
Free Devices: Google I/O is a developer conference designed to showcase Google goodies, but it’s also a gold mine for free swag. At the 2010 conference, Google treated each one of the more than 4,000+ attendees to either a Motorola Droid or an HTC Nexus One. Last year’s conference grew to 5,000 attendees and each one walked away with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. In 2010, Google gave out a whopping 10,000 Google TVs to developers creating Android apps for the TV.