Mobile Upgrades – Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows Phone Trump Android
By Jim Lundy
Mobile Upgrades is the new evaluation criteria. The Smartphone or Tablet that you buy for your friends and family for Christmas might not be as upgradable as you think. There is a war raging on Android support forums and it goes like this: when will my phone get the latest Android OS release? The answer is very simple: over a 2 year contract, the chances that it will be upgraded are slim to one. Android is an Open Source Mobile OS. Carriers and handset manufacturers, such as Samsung customize it and then deliver it themselves or via the carrier, such as T Mobile. Sounds messy, right? It is. The bottom line is that there now are multiple versions of Android.
Mobile Upgrades: Advantage to Apple and Microsoft
Mobile Upgrades of the Operating System (OS) is where Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows Phone OS trump Android. Why? The answer is simple. Both Apple and Microsoft control the OS and the delivery of the OS upgrade to their respective device models. Apple started this trend with iOS going back to 2007. Microsoft is smart to copy this strategy. Microsoft users need Zune Software to do this (similar to iTunes). They deliver new updates to the OS directly to the device. As indicated on WindowsPhoneSecrets.com, carriers can only block an upgrade from Microsoft once.
An example of mobile upgrades is to take an older phone, such as the Apple iPhone 3GS or an older tablet, such as the Apple iPad 2. Both of these devices could be upgraded to Apple iOS 6, the current release of iOS, on the day that it became available.
Mobile Upgrades: Google Android Challenges
You will probably never see a commercial for all those Android based devices that talk about mobile upgrades and how frequently the devices will be upgraded. You might see a commercial about mobile upgrades from Microsoft or Apple. On Android, Google released Android 4.1 in July 2012. Carriers and manufactures are just now releasing 4.1/4.1.2 for their phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3. See Figure 1.
So, while this isn’t talked about in the press, being able to get your phone or tablet upgraded during its usable life is a non-trivial issue. After all, these are computers. New OS updates generally are released because they have bug fixes and new features. Being held hostage by your carrier or your phone/tablet manufacturer can be frustrating.
Mobile Upgrades for Tablets
It is one thing to have to deal with this for phones. Mobile upgrades for Tablets, which are starting to be used in the Enterprise, is a big deal. In fact, we expect that vendors that can’t or won’t deliver regular tablet mobile grades in a timely faction to be eliminated from bidding consideration. Here too, Apple and Microsoft have an edge given their control of the OS.
Mobile upgrades are part of the new selection criteria for Smartphones and Tablets. They are part of what we refer to as the Mobile Ecosystem. The vendors that control the mobile ecosystems are the ones that will succeed in the long run. One thing is clear: whether at home or work, think twice before making your device selection.
Editors Note: When you are trying to decide what to do on your Tablet or Mobile strategy (including Mobile upgrades), you should talk to us. Mike Anderson leads our Mobile Coverage. See our recent special report: RIM Exit Strategy Planning as well as our Strategic Report that discusses Apple, Google, Microsoft, RIM and more.