How Microsoft’s brute financial force will bring apps to Windows Phone

Microsoft Windows Phone Apps

Microsoft has always had one big advantage over BlackBerry in its quest to establish Windows Phone as the world’s No. 3 mobile operating system: Giant piles of cash. Bloomberg Businessweek has an interesting new article out on Microsoft and Nokia’s efforts to use raw financial clout to bring more apps to Windows Phone 8. Bryan Biniak, Nokia’s global vice president and general manager, tells the publication that the two companies have started playing hardball with developers and have even told them that they risk losing out on future Microsoft and Nokia business if they don’t bring their mobile apps to Windows Phone.

“If our employees bank with you, if the company banks with you, if we travel with you, if we stay in your hotels, if we do all these things, you should have an application in our store,” Biniak explains. “We have some muscle here. Let’s start flexing our muscle.”

Of course, Microsoft isn’t just making threats to get apps onto its platform — it’s also offering rewards in the form of straight-up cash or offers to build and market other companies’ apps for its mobile platform. The company’s carrots-and-sticks strategy has started to pay off over the last year, most notably when it announced last month that Windows Phone would finally get its own Instagram app.

All that said, Biniak concedes that the brute force strategy can only take Microsoft so far: If it wants to really catch up with iOS and Android it will need to make sure hot new developers build apps for Windows Phone first and not as an afterthought. To do that, Microsoft will have to build up Windows Phone’s user base and brand recognition.

“Ultimately we’re trying to get to the point where we have a halo around our devices,” he tells Bloomberg Businessweek. “Yes, Instagram is on iOS; yes, it’s on Android; yes, it’s on Lumia. But it’s better on Lumia.”

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