Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) will spend as much as $24 million on a university program to create applications for Windows Phone and build market share for the mobile-device platform.
The money will fund grants and coaching for startups by students and others at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland, Nokia and Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said today in a joint statement. Each company will contribute as much as 9 million euros ($12 million) over three years.
Windows Phone had a market share of 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter according to Gartner Inc. as Nokia began shipping the Lumia line, its first models with the platform. The Lumia 800 was the best-selling handset at Finland’s three major operators in February.
“This will serve as an accelerator program for developing innovative mobile applications and new user experiences,” Nokia Executive Vice President Kai Oeistaemoe said in an interview. “The entrepreneurs are going to be mentored by veterans in the mobile industry and given insight and coaching on how to commercialize their ideas without having to give up equity in their companies or take debt.”
Windows Phone, which Espoo-based Nokia adopted as its main smartphone platform, has about 70,000 apps available, said Klaus Holse, president of Microsoft Western Europe. That compares with more than 400,000 apps for Google Inc.’s Android according to market researcher Distimo, and 550,000 apps for Apple devices.
Applicants for funding must agree to maintain their Windows Phone applications exclusively for Windows Phone for at least six months, Will Cardwell, head of the Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship, said in an interview.
The “AppCampus” program will initially be hosted by the entrepreneurship center in its existing facilities, and will move later, Cardwell said.
The program will also fund applications for other Nokia mobile platforms such as Symbian and Series 40.
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