Apple brags at Androids Expense
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On day one of Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) World Wide Developer Conference they provided an update on their iOS devices. Currently iOS 5 is running on 80% of iOS devices which Apple has sold 365 million. These include iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. The new iOS 6, which was announced and detailed somewhat at the keynote, though not released, sets the bar for the competition. All of Apple's competitors have new versions of their mobile operating systems launching soon. Apple, with its iOS, has been the first to detail theirs and will also be the first to get it on the majority of their devices giving Apple an edge going forward.
With over 200 new features in iOS 6 and no new iPhone, iOS took central stage as the highlight of the keynote for Apple’s mobile strategy. As expected, Apple is dropping Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Maps and providing their own 3D mapping service with turn by turn navigation. Some of the mapping information in this new mapping service is licensed from TomTom and some is their own. This directly competes with the new 3D mapping feature unveiled by Google last week. It further positions the two tech giants in direct competition in yet another area.
Apple also rolled out a feature called Passbook which serves as a digital wallet for your movie tickets, plane tickets, coupon, loyalty cards and much more. No longer will you have to carry around all of those little pieces of paper and plastic as now they will all theoretically be in your Passbook. Eventually this could be built out into a mobile payment service to compete with Google Wallet and Square. Sharing photos through Photo stream, greater accessibility options and an improved Siri assistant have all been updated and improved in iOS 6.
Apple also took a jab at Android in their keynote: 80% of iOS devices currently run iOS 5, but on the Android side only about 7% of Android devices currently run Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0. The two operating systems were released at roughly the same time. Despite this jab Android continues to grow in popularity and this summer several new flagship superphones like the HTC One X and the Samsung SIII are launching in the US running Android 4.0. The week before the Apple WWDC maps announcement, Google preempted Apple with an invite only event on the future of Google maps, which includes a high quality 3D feature and offline mapping technology.
There have also been rumors that Google will improve their already good voice controls and voice dictation with a Siri like competitor named Majel, after the computer on Star Trek. We should see a preview of the newest generation of Android with some of these features included later this month when Google holds there developer conference Google I/O.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is also releasing an update to Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8. Code named Apollo; developers are likely to get details of this new version of Windows Phone at Microsoft's Build conference on June 20th. Screen shots have leaked that allegedly show greater Skype voice and video integration as well as the traffic app from Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Drive 3.0. Microsoft may also use Nokia mapping technology for a 3D competitor to the ones announced by Apple and Google. Windows Phone 8 may see a lot more of what Nokia has to bring to the table being integrated with what Microsoft has already in Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8 will also feature support for Multi-processor phones giving them a much needed boost in power.
Microsoft is also launching Windows 8 for laptops and desktops as well as Windows RT, a new tablet version of the Windows operating system. These new devices should feature a unified user experience with the Metro interface and greater integration as Microsoft tries to create a single platform, and a credible iPad competitor. Microsoft is also brining Office to their Windows 8 tablets and there are rumors of Office coming to Windows Phone, as well as iOS.
Research in Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY) is also planning a release of its Blackberry operating system, Blackberry 10 later this year. With much improved camera functionality and a slick new predictive keyboard, Blackberry 10 has some good features. It remains to be seen if it is enough to save the stalling Research in Motion, which had less than 7% of first quarter smartphone sales and has been in decline for years.
With every major platform releasing a new version of its operating system it will be a race to see which can get theirs to the market quickest. That will probably be Apple as we have already seen that they have a faster upgrade cycle than Android. Microsoft and Blackberry will have smaller launches because they have less market share. It has taken nearly a year for Android 4.0 to get to 7% of Android devices. There is a rumor of a full line of stock Android devices sold directly by Google under the Nexus brand that could help quicken the pace. However, it is still a major issue that Apple does not have when they update their operating system.
ded004 has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Nokia. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.