Microsoft's partnership with Nokia is finally bearing fruit with the announcement of the Lumia 710 and 800 at Nokia World this week, but Redmond knows the name of the smartphone game is apps. With the Windows Phone Marketplace offering a relatively paltry 35,000 titles, it's stepping things up with plans to seed developers with 25,000 new Nokia Windows Phone devices over the next eight months. While huge in terms of numbers, the move is nothing out of the ordinary for Microsoft. Since before the launch of Windows Phone 7, the company has had no qualms about using all options to bring app makers on board, from free hardware to upfront cash payments. Don't expect to walk into any Windows Phone event to snag a free Searay, though: the seeding program will be specifically targeted at active developers. "We tend not to try to airdrop them at shows," Microsoft's Brandon Watson told Channel 9, in a not-so-veiled reference to some of Google's past practices. "Some companies like to do that... we like to make sure we put the phone in developers' hands."
Microsoft has watched its mobile marketshare decline under the Android and iOS assault the past few years, but has recently stopped the bleeding, holding on to just under six percent of US mobile subscribers. Developer interest traditionally follows consumer uptake, however, and with new Nokia Windows Phone devices not slated to come to the US until 2012, Microsoft may still be facing an uphill app battle in the months to come.