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Think twice about iPhone development

Inside the mobile matrix, part 3

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The good news here is you don't have to jump into iPhone development right away. You can take a wait-and-see approach and even get your feet wet writing simple applications. Or you can code for the dark side of the phone - the jailbroken version. If things look good for the SDK gaining momentum then you could make the switch at any time.

Dots, connected

Probably the best news is you have lots of options in mobile development in general. There has never been a better time to start developing for mobile. There are more viable platforms, more people with high-end phones, greater network capabilities, more high-speed networks and of course more money to be made in mobile than ever.

Symbian and Microsoft clearly dominate the pack, however the purpose of this mini series has been to look at possible new contenders. In the first two articles, I looked at OpenMoko's Neo1973 and Google's Android. I would go with Android if I were forced to choose just a single new platform today.

Google has more momentum than any company in technology at the moment, has rallied a powerful group of companies around the concept to help development and promotion, and it is highly likely that Google and its partners will blend their collected experience to make the web and the mobile web more interactive - and arguably more open - than before via Android.

Admittedly, it is tempting to focus on Apple. The device is a potential game changer with some amazing capabilities that open up the imagination to what is possible on the phone. Still, many important questions remain to be answered before I'd feel secure in focusing on the iPhone as my principal development choice.

As for the Neo1973, that really runs a distant third thanks to the terms of licensing and relatively low-level of industry support. To be honest I don't think it merits serious consideration when compared to Android or the iPhone.

Probably, the safest bet is to focus on Android primarily but educate yourself on the iPhone SDK so you can develop for that platform if, and when, things become clearer further down the road.®

Additional reporting by Gavin Clarke

Oliver Starr is an entrepreneur, analyst and writer covering wireless and telecoms with more than 15 years’ experience. Oliver is currently the global editor for mobile at OWStarr.com and founder and CTO of consultant Quantum Mechanic's Group.

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