If you’re a smartphone user in Ireland, the odds of you owning a iPhone is 7 in every 10, which is, by any standards is the market leader by a long way. So you may be like one of a few friends that lately I have heard questioning other people who didn’t buy a iPhone, but instead, decided on a Blackberry [RIM] or Android based smartphone. Now, I can’t talk too much here as I am an owner of an iPhone, mainly due to my old LG smartphone dying a death and because of my impatience in waiting for my mobile network to re-stock a certain HTC.

Peoples individuality will always have a factor in purchasing smartphones, but iOS has growing competition from Android, RIM and Symbian platforms and over the christmas period, Windows 7. So I’m in the majority, but have spent my working life in an minority – that is, using Apple Macs. In using a Mac for the past ten years, certain softwares have been left in isolation from its OS, but more specifically in the field of web design for its minor market OS system browsers. This is not as big a problem as it use to be, but its still something that bemuses, especially when you come across some well know websites that just sloppy programming on Safari/Firefox/Chrome and Opera for Mac.

When programming sites for launch these are the browsers that our testing begins in. Normally if everything is ok in these your pretty sure it’ll run 95% on all other browsers. Then we cross testing on a PC as the site develops, testing in Internet Explorer 7/8/9 [don't get me started], Firefox, Chrome and Opera, de-bugging any errors. You will never get it completely 100% for ever browser but you can close it down little by little so the majority of users will not have issues.

But what’s this to do with smartphones? Well designing websites for mobiles is bespoke to a clients budget; if you can afford a lighter version of a site, or if your target market requires this, along with various other considerations, then it’s worth looking into. But the majority of smartphones have no issues with viewing sites due to the smartness of their browser OS [We'll not mention the iPhone flash content issue...].

The biggest market for smartphones is Apps, and this is where companies and their design partners must look to future smartphone sales in order to avoid isolating users. Recently in a meeting about design and developing an App, in a discussion for having a cross OS App, I was a little confused and taken aback when one developer told me that the Android/Symbian market wasn’t of interest, as the iPhone dominated the Irish market.

Global Top 8 Mobile OS: Oct 09 to Oct 10. Source Statcounter.

But 30% of smartphone users do not use a iPhone. This is still a big chunk and in isolating this market, in the end, your business could suffer from these growing platforms. If you look at the global mobile OS platforms, iPhone has only 22% of the market, dropping from nearly 34% in February of this year. Currently, the growing global mobile OS platforms are Rim [Blackberry] and Android.

Happily, the developer friend has had a change of heart and has since started looking into developing for those markets. These mobile OS platforms, like with the global market, will make headway into the iPhones Irish market domination. Having your business prepared and aligned with the correct partners in developing applications for this will be a crucial over the coming year.