Does A Multiple-OS Strategy Make Sense For Smartphone Manufacturers?

The players in the smartphone OS market that we talk about most often at Lifehacker – iOS and Android — essentially work on a “one platform to rule them all” strategy, and seem to do pretty well out of it. But does that mean that every manufacturer should follow that template?

I was at a briefing on Nokia’s future plans in Sydney today. Local MD Chris Carr was keen to emphasise that there’s no immediate plans to dump Symbian, despite Nokia’s much-vaunted partnership with Microsoft to produce Windows Phone 7 devices. Symbian phones will be hitting the market until at least 2012, and work on MeeGo is also continuing.

Carr made the point that many manufacturers continue to support a diverse range of phone OSes, pointing to BlackBerry’s triple-OS strategy for the Playbook as an example. “It’s not unusual for manufacturers to have multiple OS strategies,” he said.

Having diverse OSes means that different user needs can be met, but increases maintenance expenses. Developers are also likely to concentrate on the most popular platforms.

Anyway, I’m wondering what readers think. Is offering a range of smartphone platforms good business practice, or should companies like Nokia focus their resources more? Tell us (and tell us why) in the comments.

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