I recently moderated the “Go to Market” panel at Mobile 2.0 last week. I took the path of pretending to be a developer and asking my panelists what I should do.

I started by asking the panel what platform should I build for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I was expecting a very rationale answer based on either monetization or distribution (eg If your want high volume, choose platform X, if you want monetization, choose platform Y, if you want in-app…).

To my surprise, the answers were quite different:

1. Peter at AngryBirds chose iPhone first because they felt that if they couldn’t win on iPhone, then they wouldn’t on any other platform? Basically, they wanted to start in the most competitive marketplace.

2. An audience member chose Android first because he wanted to learn Java (but another said they chose Android first because they knew Java). It’s been so long since I have developed that I forgot how much of choosing a first framework or environment is starting with what you know or the opportunity to learn a new language.

3. Surprisingly or not surprisingly, the majority of the audience hadn’t built an app for a 2nd platform. They built for their initial platform and then of course planned to build and/or port to a 2nd platform but they haven’t yet done so. And this brings up an interesting point, most long-tail developers don’t have the resources to build and maintain for two platforms so the first platform they build for will likely be the platform they will stay with (and this was the case with even a Symbian developer in the audience)

4. This should be obvious but a fair number of folks in the audience chose their first platform based on which phones they own. I’ve been spoiled by living in the Bay Area and do not normally think of access to phone to being the inhibitor but with the broader long-tail, this is absolutely a factor.

5. Most surprising, it was me who mentioned choosing a platform based on monetization and distribution which seemed most rationale to the business person but not necessarily to the long-tail developer community (and psychology).

What criteria do you use to choose your first platform?

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