Microsoft Launches “Next App Star” Competition For Windows Phone Developers

You know a mobile app store is still young and needs more content when the company behind it still writes its own blog posts when interesting new apps appear in it. With 150,000 apps, the Windows Phone store isn’t actually quite as empty as the Windows 8 store, but Microsoft could sure use some marquee apps for its mobile platform. To get developers and consumers a bit more excited about it, the company is launching its “Windows Phone Next App Star” contest today.

Registered Windows Phone developers can opt in to participate in the competition by March 5th and the company will then announce the 64 finalists. Public voting will start in April and the top 64 will then slowly be whittled down to the grand prize winner. Microsoft says there “will be prizes along the way to encourage people to participate […] and ways for you to promote your app and gain new fans.”

Overall, there will be “thousands of dollars in prizes for the developers of the 64 apps that get selected, including a Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone and a one-year free Dev Center subscription.” The grand prize winner will be featured prominently in Microsoft’s Windows Phone TV ads in the U.S., “bringing national exposure and a lot of buzz to one developer’s creation.” The contest is open for all developers, including students and hobbyists.

While it would be easy to make fun of Microsoft by saying that Apple never had to run a contest like this for its platform, it’s worth noting that Google regularly ran Android Developer Challenges in the early days of its mobile operating system, and Intel and others continue to run similar Android-focused events.