The other day I received a marketing email from a well respected analyst firm which I consider to be quite ahead in the area of social media. The firm was promoting its upcoming social commerce event. My area of focus now is the supply chain so the event doesn’t have direct relevance to me but nonetheless it is quite interesting–how will/should retailers and manufacturers respond to the shopper’s desire to have a personalized experience and what role will mobile technologies play. One item stood out to me and its not just this email that falls victim to focusing on one particular mobile platform.

The iPhone is without doubt an amazing device built on a solid, user-friendly platform (though you may need to stand on your head with only 2 fingers holding the phone to stay connected). It receives the most hype. As Dana Blankenhorn highlights in “Android Froyo and Why it Matters“, traditional media and bloggers jump hoops to cover any Apple announcement but seem to ignore the the developments of other platforms such as Android, Blackberry, WebOs, WinMo, and the number one OS on mobile phone, Symbian.

In no way do I discredit the importance of iOS4 and the opportunities it presents to retailers, manufactuers, service providers, etc. If you look at the combination of these operating systems, the total potential for mobile social commerce is amazing. In the U.S. alone, more than 41 million people use a smartphone (RIM still holds a commanding lead with 41.7 percent of the market). In the first quarter of 2010, more than 54 million smartphones were shipped worldwide, according to research firm IDC. From the chart below, it is clear there is more than one player.

Is the media creating an unnecessary hype that is detracting from the greater market potential or will developers overlook the hype and see the potential in the other platforms? My guess is the developer community looks beyond the hype to see the actual revenue potential available to them. In the end, this could be a three-legged race between RIM, Apple and Android. WinMo 7 definitely looks impressive but I don’t know if it really has the legs to compete, especially if what I have read about BlackBerry 6 and the shift to appease the consumer market is true.

How does this relate to PR you ask? Well, I have seen many fancy proposals and ideas surrounding campaigns and app development focused on one platform. Be aware fellow PR folks, a multi-platform/channel strategy is what you need to truly reach the mass market.

Full disclosure: I own an HTC Droid Incredible and love the device. Personally, I am all about Android but professionally I see there is a need to target multiple audiences to gain the maximum impact.

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