January 31, 2011, 5:39 PM

Ignore the numbers, focus on the iPhone and Android

No one can agree on market share, but these devices stand out.

Lead Photo

The iPhone (above) and devices running Android should be the primary focus of mobile commerce efforts.

I’m not going to use one numeric key while typing this story. Why? Because I’m frustrated that all the reports from research firms and technology providers on smartphone market share come to different conclusions. It drives me nuts. So I’m going to untangle the knots and put things plain and simple.

Based on all the research, one thing becomes very clear: There are two smartphone operating systems you need to worry about when jumping into mobile commerce, be that optimizing an m-commerce site or developing a mobile app. Following are the two systems you need to focus on: Apple Inc.’s iOS, which runs the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad; and Google Inc.’s Android, which runs a plethora of smartphones and tablets.

Apple has clearly shown itself to be the leader and innovator. The iOS system is the heavyweight champion while Android is the upstart getting a title shot. One way or another, Apple is going to sell millions more iPhones (and expect the next version of the iPhone later this year) and millions more iPads (expect the next model of the iPad soon). And Google has been highly successful in getting a great many device manufacturers to use its free Android operating system. You can’t keep track of all the devices running Android today or debuting with Android tomorrow.

Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, which runs a range of smart- and not-so-smart phones, is no longer the kingpin it used to be. And unlike iOS and Android, it only runs a few touchscreen smartphones, touchscreen being key to the future of mobile devices. BlackBerry’s core group of users are business-oriented and don’t do a lot of “fun” mobile activities such as shopping. And one thing all the research reports can agree on is BlackBerry’s market share is heading south.

Palm and Windows? Bit players that weren’t as innovative, fast on the draw and marketing-savvy. Enough said.

So keep your eye on the prizes: touchscreen smartphones and tablets running iOS or Android. We’ll keep reporting the numbers, and, as we do, we’ll be sure to put things in perspective and include references to other sets of numbers. But be careful not to rely on one set of numbers alone. Look at the big picture. And when you do, you’ll see that the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android devices are the future.

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