@GeeknRolla: Why app developers should look beyond the iPhone

Mention the phrase “mobile web” to almost anyone and the chances are their mind will turn to Apple’s iPhone and the new-fangled iPad. But Ewan McLeod, editor of Mobile Industry Review, is not one of those people.

Here’s the video, fast forward to 2.10:

In his fast-paced post-lunch speech, McLeod warned that despite the iPhone’s merits its importance for developers is greatly exaggerated and they should consider putting their efforts into other platforms first, or at least as well as Apple.

McLeod argues that while Apple grabs the lion’s share of technology and media headlines with all its high-end gadgets and flashy firmware updates, the other manufacturers play a bigger role in the fast-growing global mobile economy. The iPhone may sell well, but “Nokia shipped 1.4 million phones today“, he says.

In terms of mobile operating systems, the iPhone currently has a 14 percent share of the global mobile market, compared to Nokia’s Symbian with a leading 47 percent, with BlackBerry maker Research in Motion the next biggest on 20 percent.

Adapting the old adage “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM,” McLeod says that nowadays, “nobody ever got fired for developing on the iPhone” – highlighting the rush by so many in the media/technology industries to grab a slice of the App Store’s success.

But the key isn’t to make a mobile app, says McLeod, but to sign a deal with a mobile manufacturer that isn’t Apple. “Handset makers are really, really looking for ways to make money – and they can give you five million users tomorrow.

“Developing on the iPhone is a lottery unless you have a big brand. Look beyond the iPhone – a lot of other companies will be happy to give you money directly or put you in a position to talk to their audience.”