Nokia Adds Apps To The Lumia: Rovio, EA, ESPN, Groupon, Box Among Them; Some Exclusive

Windows Phone is way behind Android and iOS when it comes to apps — only about 80,000 apps compared to 500,000-600,000 each at the other two — too far behind to possibly ever catch up in actual numbers any time soon. So it makes sense that Windows Phone players cherry pick to ensure the best and most popular apps out there are on their platform. Today Nokia did just that:  it announced deals with a raft of companies, including Box, Groupon, EA, ESPN, Rovio and more to add their apps exclusively to Windows Phone for Nokia’s new range of Lumia devices.

Announced at the CTIA event, the deals are an instance of Nokia leveraging the Windows Phone platform to offer content exclusive to users of its devices: services like Nokia Maps get rolled out to the rest of the Windows Phone footprint.

“We are focused on delivering great, locally relevant apps, and importantly, those which offer unique, exclusive and original experiences,” Marco Argenti, SVP, Nokia Developer Experience, said in a statement.

The move is a significant one for Nokia to take, as it looks to grow the number of sales of the device and demonstrate that it is not just another OEM on the platform but bringing its own unique value to the proposition.

Apps, of course, are a huge part of what drives consumers to use one smartphone over another. Just yesterday, we revealed that Google had passed the 15 billion download mark for apps on its Android platform; Apple has now seen downloads of 25 billion.

Among the apps that are included in today’s announcement, made at CTIA, are several under exclusive terms. They include several in the sport category, such as the PGA Tour app (12 month exclusive) and a variety of ESPN apps (exclusive to May 2013). Additionally, there is a Groupon app (exclusive for six months); the Tripdots travel app (three month exclusive); and the AOL Entertainment Hub (six month exclusive).

In addition, Nokia notes that Rovio has assembled a dedicated team of developers who will be making apps for Lumia devices specifically and the WP platform more generally — a quick recovery after the debacle the other month when an executive dismissed the Windows Phone platform for future games, Angry Birds or otherwise.

It sounds from Nokia’s press release that it is actually investing money in Rovio’s developer effort. Some of that will be for exclusive content as well:

“Nokia and Rovio will partner to develop innovative new consumer products and content exclusively for Nokia Lumia smartphones, alongside cross platform multi-channel integrated marketing initiatives,” the company notes in its statement.

It looks like there may be a similar arrangement in place with EA as well, covering a variety of games.

Other apps announced today include apps for Time, Newsweek, PayPal and Box — all of these with no Lumia exclusivity, it appears.

What we will still have to see is how and if the Barnes & Noble deal that Microsoft announced last week will play out for other players in its mobile ecosystem: will it mean more content — more exclusive content? We asked Nokia for its take on that and it declined to comment.

The Lumia devices are now on sale in 48 different markets; up to now Nokia has sold some two million Lumia handsets, according to its latest quarterly earnings.