iOS 4 arrives, bringing changes with it

With Apple releasing its iPhone 4 later this week and the new iOS 4 software update launching Monday across iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch devices, it's an ideal time to take stock of the U.S. mobile software development market and where it's headed. Mobile advertising network Millennial Media's latest Mobile Mix index contains some answers--for the first time, the monthly report focuses on developer trends, and its findings reinforce the growing perception that iPhone and Android are leaving rival platforms in the dust. According to Millennial Media, 90 percent of U.S. developers are focusing their efforts solely on one mobile platform, with just 10 percent pursuing multi-platform strategies--among devs dedicated to a single platform, 56 percent are focusing on iPhone and 29 percent are targeting Android. Just 5 percent are building for Symbian, with 4 percent working on BlackBerry--the remaining 6 percent of developers are focused on "Other" platforms, and it speaks volumes about the sorry state of both Windows Mobile and webOS that the report doesn't even break them out into their own separate pie-chart slices.

As for how developers are making money, Games remains the dominant mobile application segment, generating 58 percent of app revenues across the Millennial network. But other categories are climbing: Social Networking is second in terms of revenue, growing 124 percent on Millennial since the beginning of 2010, while Entertainment revenues have increased a staggering 648 percent since January, a trend expected to continue throughout the summer months as advertisers leverage Hollywood's latest popcorn blockbusters. Sports apps also are surging, growing 279 percent since the year began.

How will iOS 4 alter the current landscape? Here's what we know: The new OS includes 100 new features and 1,500 new APIs, highlighted by the introduction of multitasking, folders, a unified inbox and expanded search options. iPhone 4 itself boasts Apple's new FaceTime video calling solution, HD video recording, support for iBooks and a three-axis gyro that should herald significant strides in mobile gaming. Susquehanna Financial analyst Jeff Fidacaro forecasts iPhone 4 sales could close in on 3 million in the first weekend alone. Here's what we don't know: Whether AT&T's decision to retire its $29.99 per month unlimited data pricing plan in favor of a tiered model based on usage will prevent subscribers from downloading and using the kind of bandwidth-intensive applications that created the current marketplace. Take one last look at the ecosystem captured in the Millennial report--it's going to change dramatically in the months ahead. - Jason