Recognising that it needs to seed devices to developers to spur app development for its Windows Phone devices, Nokia has declared that it has already given out 17,000 smartphones to creatives, sending 68% of the total devices it said it would hand out at last year’s Nokia World.

Nokia’s Senior Vice President of Developer Experience and Marketplace Marco Agrenti declared the figure in a recent interview with FierceDeveloper, commenting on the growth of its ecosystem since it partnered with Microsoft to power its new smartphones with the company’s Windows Phone platform.

Agrenti said that Nokia had been working closely with Microsoft “in a lot of practical actions to engage with developers,” supporting its strategy to push its developer program and increase developer support.

The Nokia exec also detailed Nokia’s efforts to connect with developers, holding 600 developer-specific events between January and June this year, with over 100 of them in North America alone.

However, when Agrenti was asked about whether Nokia was paying developers to create apps for Windows Phone, his response rather skirted the issue:

What I want to say is that we do support developers very closely so they can create things that are really unique for us. And when I say support, I am referring to a number of things. For example, the Metro UI for Windows Phone is quite unique, and we want them to use it to the fullest. We help developers by providing design clinics and in some other cases we help with training and in some other cases it is support.

We try to have as deep a relationship as possible with the developers and provide concrete support, for example providing free devices, and we essentially are facilitating that. Nokia really wants to provide that form of support to developers in exchange for trying to make something unique and differentiating for the platform.

Nokia is facing an uphill battle to win back market share from the likes of Apple and Samsung, both of which utilise mobile platforms that have rapidly expanding app marketplaces and huge developer support. Users have said that they appreciate the simplicity and design of Windows Phone’s Metro UI and interface but the Marketplace is still lacking in terms of depth and quality compared to its rivals.

That said, Nokia is now the biggest Windows Phone partner and is doing everything it can to overturn its declining smartphone market share. With over 2 million Lumia devices sold to date, it is off to a steady start but Apple and Samsung are still selling more than fifteen devices for every one that it sells.