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Analysts split on iPhone over-the-air-update buzz

Gregg Keizer, Computerworld | May 6, 2011
Apple won't let iPhone users update the smartphone's iOS over the air because it wants people regularly returning to iTunes, an analyst said today.

Apple has aggressively pushed the idea that an iPhone -- and even more so, the iPad -- can be a primary computing device, noted Gold. "So by requiring iTunes and a computer, Apple is forcing customers to deviate from their preferred mode of use."

At some point, Apple will be forced into offering over-the-air iOS updates. "I don't think they can avoid it," said Gold.

Both Golvin and Gold had alternatives to comprehensive over-the-air updates that Apple could institute in the short term.

Golvin suggested that rather than overload carrier networks with updates, Apple could simply provide an update availability notice to iPhone owners. Gold, on the other hand, urged Apple to notify users but offer the option of over-the-air updates.

"It's preferable if they'd let me do it my way," said Gold. "There are all kinds of scenarios when I'd rather do it as a sideload through iTunes."

"Apple could do over-the-air updates, but make sure you were on a Wi-Fi network," countered Golvin.

From his perspective, Apple can't move on over-the-air updates until it launches its long-anticipated move to the cloud. "It's clear they will release some kind of cloud strategy, what with the rampant speculation of the acquisition of the Lala music service and the construction of the [North Carolina] data center," said Golvin. "In long-range terms, the use model is that data wants to live in the cloud. That's the future."

According to 9to5Mac, Apple will deliver iOS updates to Verizon customers later this year. A spokeswoman for Verizon, however, declined to comment.


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