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Microsoft’s struggles with mobile apps

Nowadays, smartphones are all about apps. And Microsoft is so determined to have lots of brand-name apps for its Windows Phone app store that it’s willing to pay for them.

All an app-maker has to do is sign on the dotted line.

After years of struggling in the phone market, Microsoft teamed up with Nokia last year to challenge the dominance of Apple and Google, which makes the Android operating system. The latest fruit of their collaboration is a gleaming machine called the Lumia 900, which went on sale in the United States on Sunday and is considered to be the first true test of how well the partnership will fare.

But the hundreds of thousands of apps that run on Apple and Android devices will not work on phones like the Lumia 900 that use Microsoft’s Windows Phone software. And many developers are reluctant to funnel time and money into apps for what is still a small and unproven market. So Microsoft has come up with incentives, like plying developers with free phones and promising prime spots in its app store and in Windows Phone advertising.

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