Wednesday, April 06, 2011, 05:45 pm PT (08:45 pm ET)
Majority of iFund startups now also developing for AndroidA new report has found that 13 of the 16 companies funded by Kleiner Perkins' $200 million iFund have branched out into developing for Google's Android mobile OS in addition to Apple's iOS.
Venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers established the iFund in 2008, setting aside $100 million for promising new companies looking to develop for the then-fledgling iPhone OS. In 2010, the firm revealed that it was doubling the size of the fund to $200 million in preparation for the launch of the iPad.
According to a recent report by Dow Jones VentureWire, the rapid ascension of Google's Android has caused most of the companies backed by the iFund to begin developing for the platform as well.
Kleiner continued to affirm both its commitment to iOS as the favored platform and its deep relationship with Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs, while noting that the decision to develop for multiple platforms is left to the iFund companies themselves.
Matt Murphy, Kleiner partner and iFund manager, said the fund's emphasis on iOS hasn't changed. "We're still true to form in terms of our focus. It's just the overall smartphone ecosystem has gotten so much larger since we launched three years ago," Murphy said.
"You'll see most companies leading with iOS. Once they perfect the app, they'll do Android. A year ago they would for Blackberry and maybe Symbian. Now those two have dropped out of the conversation," continued Murphy, adding that "Android has done a really nice job of moving ahead of those other platforms."
Though all of the fund's 16 companies started by developing for Apple's iOS, 13 have since added Android to their business plans. Only Flipboard Inc., Callaway Digital Arts Inc. and iControl Networks Inc. have no immediate plans to build applications for Android.
iFund beneficiary Path Inc., which launched a photo-sharing app for the iPhone in November of last year and plans to release an Android version before summer, hopes to eventually split its resources between the two platforms
"Android is absolutely a top priority," said Matt Van Horn, vice president of business development for Path Inc.. "We're looking to have team parity between the two platforms."
According to one executive, the shift isn't just about market share. Scott Lahman, chief executive at iFund startup Gogii, noted that more and more developers have taken an interest in Android.
"Before it was iPhone, iPhone, iPhone," Lahman said. "Now more [job] candidates are saying they want to work on Android."
Interestingly enough, the iFund was launched with the help of Kleiner Perkins' John Doerr, a venture capitalist who was an early investor in Google and currently serves on the search giant's board of directors.
Executives at Apple and Google have traded heated words over the space they share in the mobile market. Jobs reportedly felt betrayed by Google's entrance into the smartphone race.
"We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business," Jobs allegedly said at a company meeting last year.
Google co-founder Larry Page responded by claiming that jobs was "rewriting history" by claiming that his company had copied Apple. "We had been working on Android a very long time, with the notion of producing phones that are Internet enabled and have good browsers and all that, because that did not exist in the market place," Page reportedly said.
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