It’s been another interesting week for the mobile industry. Here are some of the important things that happened with my usual insightful commentary.
iOS 5.1.1 Is Available
Apple released iOS 5.1.1 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The update has various security patches and bug fixes.
Owners of iOS devices should only have to wait three or four months for carriers to approve and release the patch. Oh wait… that only happens with Android updates. (Sorry for the snarkiness – couldn’t resist!)
iOS 5.1.1 is available now for all iOS devices. It is a 50MB over the air update for users of iOS 5 or 5.1. Go get it!
Update: Snarkiness aside, system updates are important to users. Droid-Life rants about how the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon has not been updated in the five months since its release.
iOS 6 to Feature New Maps App
9to5Mac and AllThingsD are reporting that a major feature of the upcoming iOS 6 is a new maps app that uses Apple’s own mapping data instead of Google’s. Apple has purchased three mapping companies (PhaseBase, Poly9, and C3 Technologies) over the last three years and it looks like we’ll finally see the fruit of those purchases.
Of course this is all speculation. iOS 6 should be unveiled at Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) on June 11 and then we’ll know for sure then.
My Take: A new maps app without Google data behind it should be no surprise. Apple bought those mapping companies for a reason. It makes sense as Apple likes to have complete control over the user experience for its devices and maps is an important part of that. Removing a dependency on Google is certainly a big bonus for Apple as there is no love lost between the two companies.
I just hope the resulting maps are as good as Google’s. One of the standout features of Android is Google Maps so Apple cannot come up short here.
Update: I did not mention whether the new maps app will support turn by turn navigation. That is because I heard nothing about that one way or the other. Google Maps on Android does support turn by turn. It is very well done and it a strong selling point for the platform. To get similar functionality I had to pay $50 to buy TomTom’s navigation app for my iPhone. Again, we’ll find out in June what features are or are not supported.
RIM Hires New COO and CMO
RIM just made two important hires. Kristian Tear was hired as COO, filling the spot Thorsten Heins vacated when he became CEO in January of this year. Frank Boulben was hired for the CMO position which has been open since 2011.
While both positions are very important, the CMO position may be more important as getting consumers interested in RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform will be critically important in stopping RIM’s steep decline in user base.
My Take: Boulben certainly has his work cut out for him. The past few marketing efforts from RIM have not been successful in keeping users and the recent “Wake Up” campaign (see here and here) shows they desperately need some marketing leadership!
Windows RT Will Not Allow Firefox or Chrome in Desktop
This week Mozilla publicly complained that Microsoft will not allow Firefox to run in “Windows Desktop” mode in the upcoming Windows RT calling it a “return to the digital dark ages”. Google later agreed with Mozilla as Chrome will also be banned.
Windows RT, for those who do not recall, is Windows for ARM devices (i.e. tablets). WinRT runs the new touch friendly Metro interface which Microsoft is heavily promoting. Microsoft wants to include Office with WinRT devices but Office for Metro will not be ready this fall. To get around this Microsoft included “Desktop mode” in WinRT to run the “legacy” Office apps. Microsoft stated that Desktop mode will only be for Office, IE, and Windows Explorer and not third party applications (e.g. Firefox and Chrome)
Questions were raised about the legality of this based on Microsoft’s anti-trust settlement but the document very specifically covers “Windows on Intel based PC’s”, so this should not be viewed as a violation of that agreement.
My Take: First of all, Firefox and Chrome will be allowed to run in WinRT as Metro apps. Both companies have said they are working on these solutions. Alternate browsers are not banned from WinRT in general, just in Desktop mode.
As far as whether Microsoft can or should disallow third party desktop apps, there is certainly precedent for a software vendor restricting which applications can run on their platform. Apple tightly controls which apps can run on iOS (and does exclude browsers) and, as John Gruber points out, Google does not allow native apps at all on ChromeOS.
There was a large anti-trust suit against Microsoft about just this type of thing but it centered on the fact that Windows was essentially a monopoly on desktop PCs and Microsoft should not be allowed to exploit that to hurt competition in the software market. This is different as Windows RT is not a monopoly in the tablet space and it is not even close to certain that Microsoft will own a significant portion of the tablet space any time soon. (Gartner predicts Microsoft will only hold 12% of the tablet market by 2016).
But Mozilla and Google are certainly concerned about WinRT’s success. It would appear that Intel is also worried about that too. The next year should be very interesting!
And that’s the news. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!