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Venture Capital Backed Mobile App Startups Remain Predominantly Mobile OS Agnostic

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Are venture capital-backed mobile app companies developing their apps on a single mobile OS or are they developing them to work on multiple operating systems?  A look at 2009′s venture capital funding activity in the mobile startup space shows that despite the $100 million plus already invested by venture capitalists in iPhone predicated startups, venture backed mobile startups are generally developing apps which work on multiple mobile operating systems vs those which are platform specific.  By multi-platform, we mean their offerings work on two or more of the prominent mobile operating systems, e.g., the big six mobile OSs - Android, iPhone, Palm, RIM, Symbian and Windows.  Because we were focused on US venture backed mobile startups, the Linux mobile OS which has 5.1% market share but which is heavily China and Japan oriented didn’t figure into the OSs we examined.

As the graph below illustrates, 67% of 2009′s venture-backed mobile app startups are developing their applications to work on multiple operating systems while 33% are developing for only a single platform, e.g., platform specific.


Amongst multi-platform apps, the vast majority are developing their applications to work across all six of the aforementioned mobile OS platforms as illustrated below with more than 3/4 of multi-platform apps building on all six mobile OSs.  The few that were developing for less than all six demonstrated no strong patterns but there was some coupling of RIM and iPhone amongst the apps choosing to build on only two platforms.


Platform specific apps, or those companies who are building their applications to work on only a single mobile OS were dominated by those developing on the iPhone OS.  This wasn’t too surprising especially given the aforementioned $100 million invested in iPhone predicated startups.  As can be seen in the graph below, platform specific apps for the iPhone comprise almost half the platform-specific apps and are more than two times greater than 2nd place finisher RIM.


Do you think VCs will continue to fund mobile apps that aim to work across all the mobile operating systems or are platform-specific apps the wave of the future?  And if platform-specific is where you see things going, is the iPhone mobile OS going to continue to be the choice for developers and the venture investors that back them?  We look forward to your ideas and insights.

If any questions or comments about this analysis, please feel free to leave a comment or write to us at team(at)chubbybrain(dot)com.  

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