Microsoft and Nokia are undoubtedly still two of the biggest names in the technology space today. Neither are strangers to innovation, with Microsoft having pioneered Windows 95, which became the most widely used operating system in the world; and Nokia once ruling the global handset business, with a market share that was 50% bigger than its nearest rival.

Of late however, neither company has been blessed with the same good fortune it once held. Both have slid down from pioneer status to, some may argue, copycat status. But could Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone arm now herald a new era for both these companies? And how do they ensure they can reclaim their status as the trailblazers in the industry?

The answer as I see it is simple. In order for Microsoft and Nokia to be the big brand names they once were, they need to first and foremost focus on their developers.

There’s no doubt that Microsoft and Nokia work with some of the finest developer talent, but improving the way they engage with them (as well as the extended developer community) is the key to their future prosperity. Successful developer programs have been shown to increase customer loyalty, reduce customer churn and increase revenue growth opportunities. In addition, developers can be important viral marketers for the brand.

So how do Microsoft and Nokia build and manage a joint community of developers that will help them achieve these objectives?

Making the case for developers
The first step is creating a solid developer program that will jointly serve the needs of both companies and their developers. Any program will, by default, prosper if the correct services and systems are applied. These should include acquisition, education, support and distribution.

The main goal of the acquisition phase is to attract and retain registered developers to the program. In turn, those developers need to be educated and supported, which should result in an increase in their productivity. As mentioned already, getting a developer community working effectively results in an increase in ARPU (average revenue per user), increased data usage, and a reduction of the overall subscriber churn as customer satisfaction goes up. By understanding the specific goals and tactics of each of these steps in the developer program life cycle, a company will automatically start to achieve its core business goals.

The acquisition phase of the developer program life cycle is defined by the effort to attract an active and loyal developer audience for a program. Since it is natural for some developers to leave a program over time, acquisition is an ongoing activity throughout the lifespan of any developer program. In Microsoft and Nokia’s case, when launching a possible brand new program, the initial acquisition efforts are crucial in establishing the brand and value proposition correctly in the developer community. Done poorly, these initial acquisition activities can make future efforts much harder because a bad impression has already been made.

About Steve Glagow