No matter what kind of smartphone you use, your decision process was probably much different than that of the company that made it.

For the consumer, choosing a mobile operating system is like a relationship or marriage: the user and the OS must be compatible, have similar goals, and similar ways of thinking. iPhone users tend to use more data, as Ericsson discovered, while Android users are more active in the evening, as revealed in an August infographic from BloomWorlds.

Choosing a mobile operating system

The standard two-year cell phone contract is considerably shorter than the lifetime commitment of a real marriage, but the dating portion of one’s relationship with a mobile phone is considerably shorter as well. How much of a chance do customers really have to get to know their phones before signing on the dotted line? Two years of dating and engagement might lead to 48 years of marriage, comparable to a 30-day try-before-you-buy period on a 24-month contract. Without a heavy termination fee or divorce settlement, you’re not getting out of either contract once you’re in.

For the company providing the phone, however, compatibility isn’t as important as viability. Synergy between the business and the software is important, but external factors and market conditions play more of a role in determining whether the relationship will succeed than the love between partners.

The choice of operating system is more like an investment than a marriage for the provider, and it can be very difficult to recover if they choose poorly and lose a large number of users. Phone makers Nokia and Research In Motion (RIM) both recently announced layoffs, due in part to their lack of ability to compete with smartphones running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Their early investments with Symbian and the BlackBerry OS were sound at the time, but upstarts came on the scene and stole the show.Nokia decided to move beyond Symbian in early 2011, but telegraphed that decision to consumers before it was ready with replacement Windows Phone devices. Consumers who didn’t want to marry an operating system with little future had no choice but to go with another manufacturer. RIM is trying to hold on to its investment with the reengineered BlackBerry 10 OS.

Stock Chart

It remains to be seen whether either strategy – doubling down or dumping and reinvesting elsewhere – will be successful. In the meantime, iOS and Android are riding high. At least there are no children to be worried about.

Tags: android data use, blackberry layoffs, cell phone contract debate, choice of operating system, choosing a mobile game operating system, iphone data use, marry an operating system, mobile OS war, nokia layoffs