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Looking to pull even with Apple, Samsung to pay developers for Galaxy-specific apps

Apple rival Samsung is turning to third-party developers to help improve the standing of its smartphone lineup against the iPhone, offering $800,000 in prize money for Galaxy-specific apps.

Samsung's global developer competition will see 10 winners, with the prize money distributed among them. The company is most interested in apps that can coordinate with Samsung's Group Play service, which allows users to share content like photos, games, and music between devices at the same time, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Attracting developers specifically to the Galaxy line would allow Samsung to further distinguish itself from other Android manufacturers, putting more distance between itself and the pack in a smartphone industry that has turned into a two-horse race.

Developers will need to use Samsung's proprietary Chord SDK for media streaming and impromptu networking in order to be eligible for the prize money. Samsung developed the Chord SDK in order to make local device information sharing easier, and the company is looking to develop it to the point where it's an industry standard.

Of the contest's $800,000 prize, $200,000 will go to the first place winner, with three second place winners taking home $100,000 each, and six third-place winners getting $50,000 each. Uniqueness, functionality, usability, commercial potential, and design will determine the winners, who may receive an investment from Samsung's venture capital arm. All submitted entries must be for free apps, not paid, though they can use in-app purchasing and advertising.

The new competition marks the second time the South Korean giant has used its considerable cash reserves to drum up developer support for its devices. In 2010, the company paid out $2.7 million to draw developer interest to its bada budget smartphone platform. This year is the second year of the Smart App Challenge for Android.

Samsung and Apple together account for 100 percent of the profit being made in the smartphone industry, with Apple every year offering one new, high-end phone and its South Korean competitor peppering the market with a wide range of devices.

Apple's devices run that company's iOS platform, and apps written for iOS have tended to have more polish than those written for Android, due in no small part to the myriad devices that make up the Android ecosystem. Getting Galaxy-specific apps of comparable quality — apps that leverage unique Samsung phone capabilities — would help the tech giant to close the gap with Apple in terms of user experience, which is an area where Samsung is typically thought to lag behind the Cupertino company.