In 2007, Apple set the bar for the industry on what a smartphone should be like. Three years later the space has promising contenders and 2011 will be a defining year on which platforms take dominance.

For Jimmy and I, it’s been a debate on which mobile operating systems we should build for. Do we pick one based on current user base? Do we go where the best developer tools are? Do we pick the newest OS?

Ultimately, we decided that we would look at current smartphone usage and desired smartphone purchases. Using these two data points we could get a strong idea of who are immediate and future customers are. Nielsen has been publishing this type of data for the past year. Using Nielsen’s “US Smartphone Battle Heats Up” and “Mobile Snapshot“, we created this chart:

Analyzing the data and pulling from the Nielsen report, we get the following findings:

People of All Ages are Turning to Apple and Android
The most popular devices are running Apple iOS, Android OS, and RIM BlackBerry OS. Looking strictly at numbers, Apple has the most smartphone users under 44 and RIM has the most users 45 and over. When you look to future purchasing decisions, the most desired devices run iOS and Android across all age groups.

Data Shows Blackberry OS and Windows Mobile Fading
2011 is going to be a defining year for RIM and Microsoft. Data from 2010 shows that RIM has a strong position with its current user base, but for future phone purchases those users are looking at iOS and Android. For Microsoft, it has a waning user base, and needs to convince consumers and businesses to pick them.

For Jimmy and I, we need to focus. We don’t have the resources to build for every operating system, so we have to choose. Based on this data our best starting points are Apple iOS and Android OS. In the future that may change, but for now that’s where our sights are set.

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