Microsoft Supports Higher App Prices for Windows Phone 7

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) will support higher prices on mobile-phone applications from outside developers to encourage better products, rather than embracing the free or 99- cent apps common in other companies’ stores.

“I’d rather developers sell fewer than a million downloads and get to a million dollars,” Brandon Watson, director of an apps developer program for Microsoft, said in a press briefing in Helsinki. “If we can support a higher price point that’s good for developers.”

Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) adopted Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone platform in February, saying that it will give the Finnish phone company and its developers more opportunities to produce distinctive products than Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android, which was also considered. Microsoft on May 24 announced handset agreements with Acer Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., and ZTE Corp., as well as 500 features to be added in the fall release of Windows Phone 7.

“Nokia expands distribution quite a bit, including China, India, Russia -- it’s very important to have a marketplace in those countries where developers can sell local apps,” Watson said in an interview. “China is going to be very, very big.”

Nokia intends to release its first Windows phones in the fourth quarter, Watson said, adding that he was reiterating guidance from Nokia’s smartphones chief, Jo Harlow. Along with the handsets, Nokia will open its own app store for Windows Phone and is working with Microsoft to convince the thousands of developers for its Symbian software to write for Windows Phone as well, he said.

Different Look

“It will look slightly different on the phone from the one that’s for all the other vendors, and they will have more control over the merchandising,” he said. “Nokia’s invested tons of money around building apps, so one of my main jobs right now is ensuring that we don’t lose a single developer to Android or iOS,” he added, referring to Apple Inc.’s mobile-phone operating system.

Further features beyond those already introduced, such as face-recognition software and voice dictation for messages, will be announced in the coming weeks for the fall release, code- named Mango, Watson said.

“We announced most of the major stuff, but there are more delighters coming,” he said at the briefing, which took place at an event for app developers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Diana ben-Aaron in Helsinki at dbenaaron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong in Berlin at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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