Microsoft has launched a new head-to-head app contest for Windows Phone 8. The top prize in the Next App Star Contest includes a US wide TV ad campaign.
To take part in the App Star Contest you need to opt-in to the competition in the Windows Phone Dev Center - and this of course involves joining the Windows Phone Developer program which will cost you $99 (unless you are eligible to join for free via DreamSpark).
Once registered for the contest all the apps you have already published, or are accepted prior to the cut-off date of March 5, 2013, will be included .
The concept for the contest, and the details of how the eventual winner will be decided is explained in this video:
Summarizing the judging process, the Windows Phone Developer Blog explains it will be based on an equal weighting of user ratings and app quality, including your implementation of new Windows Phone 8 features, like Live Tiles.
Once the field had been reduced to 64 entries these will proceed to a head-to-head, bracket-style competition in which the number of remaining entries are halved at each stage to 32, 16, 8, 4, 2, and finally the grand prize winner will be chosen, on April 8.
All 64 finalists will receive the following:
A Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone device
A one-year subscription to the Windows Phone Dev Center
Featured promotion in the Windows Phone Store
Exposure via online media
The additional prize for the overall winner is the opportunity to have their app featured in an upcoming Windows Phone prime time television commercial in the U.S.
The contest is open worldwide with just a few restrictions and full details are in the Official Rules.
Is this initiative going to appeal to devs and lead to the flood of new, high-quality apps that Windows Phone 8 so desperately needs?
Personally, I am more impressed by RIM's financial incentives of offering $100 per ported app and its guarentee of $10,000 for any app capable of earning the first $1,000 in to attract apps for Blackberry 10 - but since these offers have now expired it may well be worth re-porting apps that are already tasted success to Window 8.
It's just a shame that while Microsoft is offering a free annual subscription to Windows Phone Dev Center as finalists in its contest, it isn't prepared to waive it temporarily to enable more devs to try out the experience of porting apps to Windows Phone 8. Given the amount of money Microsoft has riding on WP8 you might think that the company wouldn't be trying to claw a few dollars out of developers before they even get started.