Rovio quickly reversed course with its new Angry Birds Space game, after deciding launching on the Windows Phone wasn’t worth the trouble. The game will indeed launch on Windows Phone, and Microsoft and Nokia will inject $24 million plan to boost development of Windows Phone apps.
Each will contribute about 9 million euros ($12 million) over three years to a program called AppCampus at Finland’s Aalto University. The money will go toward grants and coaching for startups working on the platform.
Nokia Executive Vice President Kai Oeistaemoe told Bloomberg:
This will serve as an accelerator program for developing innovative mobile applications and new user experiences. The entrepreneurs are going to be mentored by veterans in the mobile industry and given insight and coaching on how to commercialize their ideas without having to give up equity in their companies or take debt.
Applicants must agree to keep their apps exclusively on Windows Phone for six months. The programs also will fund apps for other Nokia platforms, such as Symbian and Series 40. The program will begin in May and is not limited to developers in Finland. (The university’s contribution of facilities and expertise make it a good place to kick off the program, which is expected to move elsewhere later.)
There are currently around 70,000 apps available for Windows Phone, which Nokia has adopted as its main smartphone platform, up from about 40,000 around Thanksgiving. However, compare that with more than 400,000 apps for Android devices and more than 550,000 for Apple devices.
In related news, Nokia is spending $25 million to make its Nokia Lumia 900 handset the company phone for all AT&T employees. AT&T sales staff will get the phones for free, but they’d have to turn in their current company phones, be they iPhones or Android. The upside for Nokia would be that sales people would be much more knowledgeable about Windows Phone.