Nokia targets App Store with N8 contest

Nokia is attempting to woo developers away from the world of the Apple App Store and the Android Market with a contest offering the best apps prizes from a $10 million fund.

The prize fund, which is made up of a combination of cash, Nokia hardware, and what the company is calling "marketing prizes," will be distributed to winners in a variety of product categories, from professional apps to games.

Dubbed "Calling All Innovators North America," the contest is actually open to developers from all over the world - apart from a somewhat selective list of countries that Nokia has decided don't get to play. While all the usual suspects are present - North Korea, Burma, Cuba, and Iran are all disqualified - there are some surprises in the list, too - including Belgium, Brazil, France, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and even Quebec, although the rest of Canada is good to go.

If you're not on the banned list - the full version of which is available on the official rules page - then you're in with a chance, and all you have to do is design a top-quality app for Nokia's flagship N8 smartphone and deploy it through to Ovi Store in one of seventeen selected categories. Although there's a cost involved, Nokia is kindly refunding the Ovi Store registration charge to contestants whether they win or lose.

The categories include mapping software, music packages, photo and video tools, and social networking apps, along with action and adventure games, puzzle and strategy games, and card and casino games.

If you've developed an app which you think is suitable - and which you're willing to make available in English for the US and Canadian market via Ovi Store - then you should probably check out Nokia's judging guidelines. The company says that "high quality apps" are defined for the purposes of the contest as featuring "visually attractive, easy to use UI based on Symbian^3 UI guidelines and using Nokia Qt and Web UI design tools," use advanced hardware APIs, are fast and responsive, and where it "delivers top quality HD video and audio experience with Dolby Digital Plus."

Nokia is also looking at showing off the 3D capabilities of the N8, with apps given better consideration if they use OpenGL to perform hardware accelerated 3D graphics feats.

The fifty-one overall prize winners, as decided by a panel of judges from Nokia and US mobile network AT&T will receive $150,000 for first place in their category, $50,000 for second place, and $25,000 for third place.

From that pool, two apps and two games will be chosen as grand prize winners, with the top in each section getting an additional $100,000 cash and $1.9 million in Nokia-lead marketing, and the running up receiving $1 million in marketing but no additional cash.

It's a big prize fund, but the question remains whether it's big enough to tempt developers away from the far bigger customer pool represented by Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market - not to mention the up-coming Windows Phone 7 devices.