Nokia is phasing out two free versions of its developer programme, replacing it with a new scheme that businesses will have to pay for, according to the company’s website.

The smartphone manufacturer is understood to have discontinued the Nokia Developer Launchpad Program, and is also in the process of closing the currently invitation-only Nokia Developer Pro Program.

Both of these will instead be replaced with the Nokia Premium Developer Program, which has been designed to try and encourage more developers to start creating apps for the Windows Phone 8 operating system.

To join the new program though, developers will need to pay $99 (USD). However, Nokia is quick to boast on its website that members will receive the following benefits and services as a result, worth $1,500 (USD) combined:

  • Windows Phone Dev Center – One year of Windows Phone Developer Center membership. A $99 (USD) retail value.
  • Telerik RadControls – A free license for Telerik RadControls for Windows Phone. A $99 (USD) retail value.
  • Buddy.com Cloud APIs – Up to 12 months’ worth of access to up to 1 million API calls per month with Buddy’s cloud APIs during your membership. Up to a $1200 (USD) retail value.
  • Tech Support – Two Nokia Tech Support tickets. A $198 (USD) value.

The change was highlighted in a report by TechWeek Europe earlier today. A page on the Nokia website reads: “Nokia is announcing that we are in the process of refreshing our developer programmes to focus more tightly on our core platforms, Windows Phone and Series 40. As a result, we are not currently accepting new applications for Nokia Developer Launchpad and Nokia Developer Pro programs.”

Any applications that have been submitted to the Nokia Developer Launchpad Program, but which have not yet been processed, will not be completed or taken any further. However, anyone who is entitled to a developer device still has until the end of this month to ask for it.

In a series of frequently asked questions, Nokia says its commitment to the developer community “remains strong” and that people can “expect to see new programme offerings in the near future”. These, according to the phone manufacturer, will be more valuable to developers than the existing initiatives.

Nokia is going all in with Windows Phone 8. The Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 are two innovative devices that really take advantage of the new operating system, but it’s the company’s own app offerings that have helped elevate them above the competition from HTC.

If both Nokia and Microsoft are to succeed though, they need a thriving app marketplace in Windows Phone 8. These should be both new and existing apps that have been developed not only by Nokia and Microsoft themselves, but also by third-party app developers. The likes of Instagram, Path and Evernote, to name just a few.

It’s difficult to say if the abolition of these programmes and the introduction a new, $99 (USD) plan will sway developers away from the Windows Phone 8 platform. Both companies have a mountain to climb, and there’s no incentive for making that task anymore difficult.

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