LONDON - Nokia plans to give away 25,000 new Lumia 800 smartphones based on the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system to developers, and the cell phone company, in conjunction with Microsoft, hopes to sign up 100,000 developers between now and June 2012.
At the Nokia World 2011 conference here, Marco Argenti, senior vice president of developer experience and marketplace at Nokia, said Nokia plans to give away the phones starting right then on Oct. 27.
"There are literally trucks outside right now full of Windows Phones," said Matt Bencke, general manager of developer and marketplace at Microsoft. "This is one of the largest seeding programs I've ever heard of," said Brandon Watson, senior director of Windows Phone 7 development at Microsoft.
Nokia and Microsoft are not just wantonly giving away the phones; they are focusing on committed developers, Watson said.
Argenti said analysts estimate that 44 percent of smartphone users are considering "upgrading" to Windows Phone. "I hope it's going to be a -real Windows Phone,'" he said alluding to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's comment that the Nokia Lumia is the "first real Windows Phone." Argenti also noted that some analysts have projected that Windows Phone could reach 19.5 percent adoption by 2015.
Moreover, since Nokia and Microsoft teamed up eight months ago, they have seen 330 percent growth in the number of apps available for the platform. "In the Nokia Store we have over 90,000 apps," Argenti said.
Bencke explained that Nokia and Microsoft are building a new "third" ecosystem together and are helping with the development, marketing, merchandising, designing, providing a marketplace and other issues required for an ecosystem.
"For instance, we're working with Nokia to understand local markets so developers' great apps can be discovered," Bencke said. "We're also working to make payment more readily available. Nokia has 131 payment processing centers around the globe."
Microsoft and Nokia also have 1,600 evangelists around the world spreading the word about Windows Phone on Nokia, Bencke added.
Bencke then explained that Windows Phone has an attractive stack for developers, starting with its hardware access layer, then a managed runtime engine with the user interface layer atop that. "We provide XAML [Extensible Application Markup Language] as well as XNA for game developers," he said. "And we have SQL Azure in the cloud and Visual Studio as our toolset."