It seems RIM doesn’t want developers making apps for anything before OS 5. With OS 5, developers can take advantage of the newer APIs that make for more elegant and engaging applications. As pointed out by Ebscer, RIM likes to point out that 90% of paid applications were downloaded by users running OS 5.0 or higher, and therefore there is really no reason to have your app running on any OS lower than 5.0. There is also a bit of a hidden agenda in telling this to developers, as RIM is trying to shed the notion that there’s fragmentation in the platform.
But should you follow and forget about old OS versions? There are still a few developers who choose to make their apps available for OS 4.5 and 4.6. Take Foursquare for example – the Foursquare app runs on devices as old as the 8700 and 8100. Ebscer on the other hand says he’s moving on and recent applications only run on OS 5.0+.
I recently got out of a meeting where we talked about what browsers to optimize for on our site. Our site gets most of its traffic from browsers with a Safari user agent, which could mean OS 6 devices as well as Mac, iPhone and Android. But there is also a heavy amount of traffic from older devices going as far back as the 8330. This got me thinking that while the vast majority of paid applications come from OS 5 devices, free apps and websites probably need to consider much older operating systems. If selling an app and making revenue is your primary goal, then consider only OS 5 and above. If building a user base and gaining critical mass is your objective, then consider older OS versions.
Do you have an app or a website? What OS versions do you take into consideration?