In a gesture designed to demonstrate commitment to its existing app developer base, Nokia has sent an email to members of its Launchpad developer program promising them two free devices - a Nokia E7 and a Nokia WP7.
Membership of Nokia's Launchpad program is intended to gives it members advantages when they develop apps for its Ovi Store. In addition to the free phones and free admission to the next Nokia World/Nokia Developer Summit event referred to in the email sent to members on February 18 and reported by Slashgear, the "normal" benefits include early and exclusive access to technical information (including: alpha and beta APIs and SDKs, materials about upcoming technologies), access to the latest market intelligence and industry reports and discounted technical support cases.
So why offer members two free phones at this point in time? As part of its partnership with Microsoft, in which it has made a commitment for Windows Phone 7 to be its major platform, the Ovi Store will merge into Microsoft's Marketplace - and to have any chance of success a shed-load of new apps is required.
Also even though Nokia has to put Windows Phone 7 first in future, it can't just dump Symbian overnight - the E7 has only just launched and it now needs apps that make good use of its features.
Currently membership of Launchpad (normally 300 Euros per annum) is being offered free to "qualifying" members and you can sign up at Forum.Nokia.
Nokia goes Windows Phone 7