The App Stores War  is getting a lot more interesting: Palm, it seems, is paying serious cash to app developers, while Microsoft has resorted to placing ads for developers in iPhone Apps. All to beat Apple.
The data about Microsoft surfaced over at 1800PocketPC , spreading to AppleInsider, which has a particularly tough spin on the story that highlights some of the restrictive practices Microsoft will be operating inside the WimMo app marketplace. But the ad placements do seem to speak for themselves:
They're appearing in the banners across the top of many ad-supported free apps, simply stating "Windows Marketplace for Mobile" with a tempting button to click to "submit app." The irony is fabulous isn't it? But there's more, of course: within the Marketplace's SDK there's a line that seems to prohibit this kind of deal; "applications that link to, incent users to download, or otherwise promote alternate marketplaces" are prohibited. Wouldn't this include ad placements that promote the iTunes App Store, if strictly interpreted?
Microsoft's also been approaching iPhone app developers directly, asking them to port their wares to WinMo. And there's also the "Race to Market Challenge" which is effectively a competition for app developers with a trophy, chances for boosted promotion, and even a Surface on offer.
Meanwhile it seems that a TechCrunch writer  spoke to Palm app developers CitySourced, and during the interview uncovered evidence that Palm's paying developers specifically to develop high-quality apps. The developers concerned were cagey with the dollar amounts in question, the figure was reportedly "under $500,000" and that will be used to create small as well as large apps. But the implication is that the sums are significant. This sheds some interesting light on the state of the Palm app store , and could even explain why there are seemingly so few apps --though we'll find out more next week , it seems. Palm is practicing a "quality over quantity" management policy, and paying for the privilege of having better apps instead of sheer volume of apps, which includes low quality ones. Can we assume there'll be no iFart apps in Palm's smartphone app store?
The reason both Palm and Microsoft are so desperate to get their own App Stores up and running is because of Apple. Its iTunes App Store is, as everybody knows, thriving. Apple revealed during last week's iPod event that the app count had passed 75,000--it was only a month ago  that the 65,000 figure was topped, so this represents an astonishing quantity of offerings for iPhone and iPod Touch users. And, of course, it directly equates to an astonishing quantity of cash  flowing into Apple's coffers. That's what Microsoft and Palm are chasing, even if they have to spend a fistful of cash to make it work.