Nokia is giving away free E7 phones to programmers that join its “Launchpad” developer program, underlining the handset maker’s eagerness to bolster a smartphone ecosystem.
The Espoo, Finland-based phone maker is also offering the same package to existing developers, in a bid to keep them committed to its platform, which is shifting to Windows Phone 7 later this year. It will also give new and existing developers a free Windows handset when it becomes available, as well as a free Launchpad account, which normally cost €300, or around $400, a year.
App makers will also get free admission to its next Developer Summit event, and free tech support for three months. Nokia is also offering a free user experience analysis for apps, a service that should go a long way to improving app quality, as well as extending its business development program to all program members.
“In light of the strategy announcement made by Nokia and Microsoft last week, we are writing to you today to assure you that our commitment to you and your work to develop innovative apps for Nokia devices remains as strong as ever,” Nokia said in an email to developers.
The handset maker is looking to merge its Ovi Store into Windows Phone 7 and will need support from third-party developers to ensure its marketplace is a success. Existing Launchpad members received an email outlining the offer, as well as assurance that the Microsoft partnership represented a lucrative opportunity for everybody.
This bold move should encourage developers to get involved and help seed the nascent Nokia-Microsoft ecosystem with apps, content and services. An interconnected ecosystem is an essential element of successful, modern smartphones, an issue recognized by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in a brutally frank memo that leaked last month.
The bonanza giveaway illustrates the depth of Nokia’s determination, but it has a long way to go. Apple celebrated its 10 billionth app download last month, and Google recently becoming the top mobile operating system in the world.
Nokia and Microsoft are taking the first step by getting developers on board, but it remains to be seen whether such action is swift enough in a fast-moving market.