In a recent column, I noted that while the Instinct, Samsung’s would-be iPhone slayer, was a very nice piece of hardware, the reason it doesn’t pose a significant challenge to the iPhone is its second-rate software. Now Sprint is proposing to do something about that by sponsoring a developer contest for the Instinct.

The $20,000 top prize and two $5,000 runner-up awards leave the Instinct competition somewhat short of Google’s $10 million Android application contest of the $100 million iPhone development fund put up by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Still, it’s a welcome step.

The bigger problem is that the Java Mobile environment offers nowhere near as rich a development opportunity as the OS X-based operating systrem of the iPhone. And Java development tools have never won anywhere near the praise from programmers that has greeted the combination of Objective C and the iPhone Software Developers Kit.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE