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Nokia eyes Vision+ to boost Windows Phone apps

The handset maker is working with a new investment fund called Vision+ to help fund and spur innovation for app development on the Microsoft mobile phone platform.

Nokia will be working closely with a new investment fund called Vision+ to help spur innovation for its new smartphones that will run Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.

Vision+ is an independently run investment fund that will target app developers creating games, entertainment and education apps, and apps for preventive health. The fund will invest in companies with products that have a clear path to commercialization.

Tero Ojanpera
Nokia's Tero Ojanpera will become managing partner at Vision+. Nokia

With funding and support from Vision+, product developers will create and preserve their own intellectual property, while sharing product revenue with Vision+. Eventually, Vision+ hopes to expand into other industries, including green tech concepts like clean water and energy.

Even though the fund won't be run by Nokia, the handset maker will be its anchor investor. And the developers that the fund will be most interested in at first will be those geared toward developing apps for Nokia's forthcoming Windows Phone devices.

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A key member of Nokia's leadership team will be heading up the fund. Tero Ojanperä, an executive vice president and former CTO at Nokia, who has been with the company for 21 years, also said today that he plans to leave Nokia at the end of September when his contract expires. He will take on a new role as managing partner of the Vision+ investment fund.

Earlier this year, Nokia announced that it would stop further development of its Symbian operating system for its high-end smartphones. Instead, the company said it would focus all its resources on developing smartphones that run Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Nokia hasn't yet announced any new devices running Windows Phone, but it's expected to have some devices ready by the end of the year.

Part of the challenge that Nokia and Microsoft have faced as they try to battle Apple's iPhone and the growing popularity of Google's Android operating system lies in developing a robust ecosystem. The smartphone market is driven in large part by what phones can do. Applications have become a crucial element for success for smartphone platforms.

Apple is clearly in the lead with more than 425,000 apps for subscribers. Android has more than 250,000, while Microsoft has just over 30,000 apps, according to unofficial tallies.

"We're excited to work with Vision+ and foster innovation for the mobile developer ecosystem where we believe that the next big opportunity will be local application development," Marco Argenti, senior vice president of developer experience at Nokia, said in a statement. "The Nokia developer program provides strong support for local developers and it aims to have the most local application portfolio. Thus this initiative is a great addition to our developer activities, including those with Microsoft."