Dave Courbanou

August 22, 2011

2 Min Read
Microsoft Taking in the Huddled Masses of webOS Developers

Prolific tweeter and Microsoft’s Director for Windows Phone 7 Brandon Watson has made a Twitter plea to webOS developers: Forget the webOS platform and come develop for Windows Phone 7. Why? Microsoft will provide developers everything they need to start, including phones, for free. Read on for the details …

It’s a bold move on Microsoft’s part, considering that of all the mobile OSes on the market, webOS is most unlike Windows Phone 7. Watson’s Twitter account evangelizes Windows Phone 7 now more so, including asking fellow Twitterers why they’re switching to develop for Android when they could develop for Windows Phone 7. Watson’s official tweet is as follows:

To Any Published WebOS Devs: We’ll give you what you need to be successful on #WindowsPhone, incl.free phones, dev tools, and training, etc.

Microsoft wants those devs, and they want them bad. And with Windows 8 around the corner, I have a feeling Microsoft may be making efforts to put Windows Phone 7 applications in the Windows 8 app store, making them cross-platform compatible. But that dream can’t be realized with a small group of developers.

Microsoft knows that with webOS out of the way, Windows Phone 7 is now trailing the market as iOS and Android battle it out (and RIM slowly fades away). In my review of Windows Phone 7, I said I liked the style and feel, but felt like it was all a little half-baked. Through Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia, the new round of Windows Phone 7 devices are expected to be truly unique and competitive devices, but without an expanded and impressive app catalog, a Windows Phone 7 phone could be as useful as a cordless phone.

How can Microsoft afford to give free phones and training? Because Microsoft needs to. Some may argue with this, but I think Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia is a Hail Mary pass to ensure Windows Phone 7 can thrive in a volatile mobile ecosystem. Free training and phones could be a beautiful promise to destitute webOS developers, since Android and iOS development would initially require some form of investment, either in a Mac or an Android device. Microsoft is grabbing every opportunity it has to foster Windows Phone 7 development.

But will it be enough? That’s something we’ll have to wait and see. For developers who come from a multitasking-style mobile OS, moving over to Windows Phone 7 could be difficult. I would assume most webOS developers would move to Android if they haven’t already started cross-developing. For developers who were 100 percent invested in the webOS ecosystem, it may be their only shot at re-establishing themselves, so Microsoft could be handing them a golden ticket. And according to Watson’s twitter replies, webOS developers are welcoming the opportunity.

The plot thickens as the mobile wars rage on.

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