If you haven't heard anything about Microsoft's new smartphone, the cleverly named Windows Phone 7, expect that to change in t-minus, oh, four months or so. The answer to Google's Droid and Apple's iPhone -- ya know, just half a decade later -- comes out around the holidays, and according to TechCrunch Microsoft intends to spend "billions" in the first year alone just trying to sell the damn thing.
Whereas Google and Apple make phones so cool that developers are forced to make apps for them because that's where the consumers are, Microsoft is apparently offering revenue guarantees to in order to ensure that its app store won't launch with bare shelves. It's bribing them, essentially.
The only problem with this strategy (besides its cost) is that human nature is working against Microsoft. The people who make the best apps do it because they're inspired. The money is usually just a byproduct of said inspiration.
Reversing that formula is likely to produce mediocre product. So if developers working for Google and Apple are like Kevin Smith when he made Clerks, then those same developers working for Microsoft are like Kevin Smith when he made every other movie he's ever made.
(Except for Dogma. Ambitious but clumsy is a forgivable sin.)
Of course, if "mediocre product" were the end result that would actually mean an improvement in Microsoft's mobile win-loss record. Remember the Kin? The last phone floated on the strength of the Microsoft marketing dollar? You shouldn't. Because it got pulled from stores after only six weeks.
The worst part is that all this negative talk doesn't even have anything to do with the phone which, according to people who've handled it, is actually pretty cool. Or at least a lot better than the Kin. Which is too bad. Because Microsoft will have to sell 100 million of them just to break even.