VCs Say Don’t Forget The Other Platforms

V.C. Advice to Entrepreneurs: Its Not All About the iPhone – Bits – Technology – New York Times Blog:

Though almost every discussion at the MobileBeat conference in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Thursday centered around the iPhone, venture capitalists told mobile entrepreneurs to broaden their focus and build applications for all phones. Still, all anyone wanted to talk about was the Apple App Store, from which users have downloaded 30 million applications for the iPhone this month.

Startups should “intelligently hedge their bets across multiple platforms,” advised Richard Wong of Accel Partners. His firm has invested in mobile games and application site GetJar, “the store for the other 3 billion phones that aren’t iPhones,” as Mr. Wong put it.

Interesting stuff. VCs (one of whom created an iPhone-specific fund) reminding Valley developers to think outside the iPhone — hard to argue with that on a market share or geographic basis. But the ease of development for the iPhone is pretty alluring for many of these guys, so the CEO of Loopt suggests they first develop for the iPhone and use it as a proving ground, then go to other platforms. Sounds like a decent idea, but it seems to have a few pitfalls, too. The controlled channel of the App Store doesn’t really replicate the distribution experience in the rest of the market, and the demographics of the iPhone user base may not accurately represent the wider mobile market, particularly if you’re trying to target users in countries where the iPhone’s unavailable. Also, what if you want an app to do things that aren’t possible with iPhone apps?

But, there are still good takeaways here for platform providers, device vendors and operators: make development easier, and make app discovery and download simple and rewarding. More thoughts on the former from Symbian VP David Wood, more on the latter from yours truly.

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