“Oh, it’s for the iPhone…!”

I’m a big gadget freak. When I’m not co-ordinating news and reviews for Kasterborous, I can usually be found playing with a computer, tinkering with a mobile phone or writing about it. I was 7 when I got my first computer (a Commodore 64) and I’ve had one ever since.

The recent success for Doctor Who as a free PC game has been something I’ve been longing for since the 1980s, and with The Adventure Games it feels as though the franchise has finally got into the swing of computer gaming, banishing the horrific memories of Dalek Attack! and others. Success on the home computer platform has seen Doctor Who games move to consoles with a Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS game imminent, and there is even an iPhone game in the offing from the BBC.

Ah yes, the BBC. Why is it that whenever they do anything mobile, it is for the iPhone?

British Mobile Phone Statistics

By the end of 2007 the UK had around 73.1 million mobile phones. In 2008, around 25% of these were on the o2 network – at the time the exclusive network for the iPhone. That means that under 18 million people owned an iPhone, and the true figure for this period is probably closer to 1 million in 2008, as the figure has recently hit 2 million. With a 7% increase in mobile phone use in the intervening time and the iPhone available on other networks, as many as 5 million Apple iPhones are estimated to be in use in the UK.

This amounts to just 20% of British mobiles according to 2010 figures, a drop in the ocean compared to the 46.9% of all UK mobile phones being powered by the Symbian platform phones (commonly found running Nokia phones and until recently Sony Ericsson), and closer to the 19% of RIM (BlackBerry), 11% of Microsoft and 3% of Android phones.

BBC iPlayerAn organisation funded by what is effectively a tax, would, one might assume, be quite keen on open standards such as those found on the Android platform. Why do I still have to resort to third party apps to watch iPlayer on my Android phone (despite announcements that Android apps would be provided this year.)

There are 30 million households in the UK, and almost all of these pays the licence fee. Targeting mobile apps at just one sixth of these households seems insane!

I Want the Doctor Who iPhone Game on my Android…

…but  can’t, despite it being a partially used mobile platform. I also can’t play it on a BlackBerry or a Nokia or Sony Ericsson. Despite the 3% figure above for Android, this figure looks set to increase considerably over the next few years and it seems likely that the platform will move into a three horse race with iPhone iOS4 and Symbian. BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Phone will probably also even out their share – but there is no announcement from the BBC about developing mobile games for other platforms.

Now this editorial is nothing to do with the BBC’s coverage of Apple, Android, Windows Phone or any other technology. It is purely asking – why, iPhones are used by a small sector of the mobile market, are they being favoured?

I don’t think anyone really knows.

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