LAS VEGAS—Microsoft isn’t ready to talk about how many application developers are getting behind its upcoming Windows Marketplace, but it’s floating a few big-name developers before the store even opens.
Some top developers already signed on to be among the first to offer applications through Windows Marketplace for Mobile include EA Mobile, MySpace, AccuWeather.com, The Associated Press, Namco Networks, Facebook, Handmark and more.
“I am very excited about the ability to work with these guys,” says Aaron Woodman, a director in Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business.
Another aspect of the marketplace that Microsoft is revealing this week: the opportunity for wireless operators to get involved and create a branded experience within the store. Woodman describes it as a “store within a store” opportunity, where flexible billing is part of the mix. Consumers can buy apps via credit card, or they can get billed on their mobile carrier’s phone bill. That way, carriers have a way to maintain their billing relationship.
In his keynote address at CTIA Wireless 2009 on Thursday, Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft, will introduce an alliance with two prominent design houses and showcase the work of fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.
Microsoft has been working with Mizrahi, TV personality and one of the designers who created home and other products for Target, on custom themes, such as color palettes and wallpaper, for Windows phones. Fashion designers often consider cell phones as accessories and sometimes as replacements to their own product designs, like watches, Woodman notes.
Through new partnerships with the Design Museum London and Council of Fashion Designers of America, Microsoft will offer a variety of designer themes to help people express their personal style on Windows phones. Mizrahi is the first to create exclusive themes; other designer announcements will follow.
Some 20,000 applications work today on Windows Mobile, so it already has a healthy ecosystem, Woodman says. The Marketplace will launch the second half of this year when the new version of the Windows phone operating system is released.