Microsoft And Nokia’s Major Investment In Windows Phone Apps

Microsoft is still very much playing catch-up when it comes to mobile phone apps, but the firm is serious about its efforts, today announcing a big investment in its ecosystem.

The scheme in question being a new mobile application development programme called AppCampus, which will be based at Helsinki's Aalto University, running over the next three years.

Reuters reports that Microsoft's manufacturing partner in Windows Phone crime, Nokia, will match its investment, seeing both firms put 9 million Euros into the project (for an 18 million Euro fund in total).

Currently, Microsoft has just announced that Windows Phone now boasts 70,000 apps, surpassing RIM's BlackBerry app store, but still a long way short of Android and iOS (which boast numbers to the tune of 400,000 and 500,000 respectively).

The AppCampus program will begin in May of this year, and both companies are hoping to attract "thousands" of application proposals from developers and entrepreneurs across the globe.

Aalto University, which apparently has a "growing reputation as a hotbed of new startup companies", will provide comprehensive training in design and usability for those entrepreneurs, along with funding.

Klaus Holse, president of Microsoft Western Europe, commented: "AppCampus offers an unprecedented opportunity for entrepreneurs to put their ideas into practice and create world-class mobile products."

"We want to turn a new leaf in the mobile industry and foster Finland's role as a centre of excellence for mobile technology. Such investment into early-stage concepts has rarely been seen in this sector, and this demonstrates how highly both Nokia and Microsoft value Finnish mobile expertise."

It's definitely a commendable programme, and good to see Microsoft is serious about stimulating app development as it attempts to push Windows Phone hard this year. Some fancy new handsets later this year, running Apollo, and perhaps bringing Nokia's 41 megapixel camera on board, could just see the OS finally pushing for serious market share this year.