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It's no secret that 2013 will be the year of large smartphones. Whether or not they should be called phablets from now on is a matter of personal opinion. Regardless of your thoughts on large devices or top specifications, smartphones are mobile computers. They are more capable than ever. In fact, smartphones might soon be due for a change in identity since they are much more than just "smart" phones. That's a clear misnomer.

Each mobile operating system offers similar characteristics that keep them viable alternatives to one another. In the same sense that some consumers prefer the latest version of Mac OS over Windows on their desktop computer, consumers have become accustomed to certain mobile operating systems on their smartphones. The idea that mobile operating systems have a more profound effect on consumers than their desktop OS counterpart would not be a stretch of the imagination in any sense.

Apple and Microsoft have been asking consumers for a small sum of money to have the latest operating system on their personal computers. Could mobile manufacturers do the same without upsetting the industry as a whole?

I wouldn't be surprised if manufacturers like Apple and HTC would start charging consumers for the latest version of their operating system. Though Apple has a strong history of releasing periodical updates that offer various advantages, I wouldn't be surprised if they started to charge consumers for it.

Apple touts iOS as the "world's most advanced mobile operating system." So, could you put a price on it?

Here's Apple's latest pitch of iOS: "With its easy-to-use interface, amazing features, and rock-solid stability, iOS is the foundation of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. And even as others try to catch up, the technologies and features built into iOS keep your Apple devices years ahead."

Furthermore, iOS offers Siri, the largest collection of mobile apps, iCloud, low and high-level OS security features, and enterprise-ready features for professionals. It's no secret that Apple touts the value of iOS as a feature in itself based on one sentence on the iOS homepage.

iOS updates are free.

If you aren't convinced by Apple and their supreme advertising and marketing tactics that they could charge for their OS, here's another perspective on the matter.

It could be argued that Samsung's TouchWiz is the best manufacturer skin of them all. It offers additions and features that stock Android does not and that's not my opinion: it's a fact. Though I prefer Android's latest Jelly Bean over any additional benefits that TouchWiz may offer, it would be foolish not to acknowledge the benefits that TouchWiz adds to their entire Galaxy Note line. Needless to say, I think most benefits of Samsung's TouchWiz are fully optimized on their Galaxy Note II and tablets. So, could you put a price on TouchWiz?

TouchWiz touts SAFE as a security precaution developed by Samsung themselves to make the Galaxy Note II more secure and easier for your employer's IT department to manage. Their S Pen is optimized to remember test, shapes, and equations to maximize productivity. Then there's Popup Video and Popup Note to "redefine multitasking." To top it off, TouchWiz features S Voice, Smart Gestures, and Smart Stay all of which improve the average consumer's experience.

Take a step back and look at the situation. It might be less believable for Apple or Google to directly charge consumers for the latest operating system or update. Since it's been free for so long manufacturers would be embracing a risk they have never faced before in the mobile ecosystem. On the contrary, charging for the latest version of Sense or TouchWiz could be more believable. Not only would the additional features of the UI be justified on a larger display, Samsung could further differentiate TouchWiz as a feature that other manufacturers can't match. TouchWiz could be turning into a premium feature right before us.

And don't forget about your mobile provider. Whether you're on AT&T's network or Verizon's, who is to say they couldn't start charging for firmware or software updates?

I want to know what you think about manufacturer skins and updates. Would you pay to have the latest OS on your smartphone if it offered real improvements? What about skin overlays like HTC Sense or Samsung's TouchWiz UI? Could you justify paying for the additional features that manufacturer skins offer? If I had a say in the matter, I'd only consider paying for skins if all devices shipped with a stock version of their OS. Imagine how much Samsung could recoup if they shipped the Galaxy Note II with stock Android and offered TouchWiz as an update. I think it's a business opportunity for most manufacturers that we shouldn't rule out in the future. You know the drill! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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Products mentioned in this Article

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162 Reactions to this post

"Would you pay for software updates?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Demilo Dixon no. greedy bastards just want more money.
Matt Cude Hahaha no
Michael Talbot Absolutely not...paying enough for phones already
Josef Ruiz lol no Talent Trust - Offshore with a difference
Aadinath Kshirsagar I'd rather pay for windows phone's next version!!!! trolled!!
Chase Michael Vandiver I remember back in the day I had to pay $5 for iOS 3 on my iPod touch.
Steven Pereira I'd pay if phones weren't subsidized. I'd pay a fair price for the phone and any updates that I thought important.
Jayson Levin Or other os
Jayson Levin If you have a lot of people would switch to android
Jayson Levin No I would not
Jude Fils-Aime I'd rather PAY FOR SAMSUNG than the boring shitty iOS. But as for me I'm waiting for the XPERIA Z
Mary Walker I guess it depends how much it costs, and if it was worth it.
Nick Koval Lol more reason for ppl to get on board with android:-)
Kevin Eusebio sponsored by Verizon Wireless? looks like VZW looking for another way to overcharge their customers...
Suryo Lee Never
Bill Stewart Save your money and get a Samsung Android phone.
Justin Charles Reback I shake my head at the people who say they'd pay for iOS updates, especially the ones who say try to justify it because of their opinion that the OS is superior to Android. You already pay for the device, and for your service (home internet with WiFi or Cellular). If Apple put a premium on OS updates you would pay for them? Jeez. No offense, but no one should be that willing to bend over and take it for software updates to a phone.
Steven Benham I have real mixed views on this. Firstly if the phone manufacturers stop rush releasing. And taking phones to market before there finalized and getting their customers to more or less find bugs so they can then roll out updates. This is nearly every smartphone inc apple. And then ask for a fee. Its a down right joke. But on the other hand tweeks that involve speeding things up or preserving the battery. Hang on. No these issues should have been discovered in testing and development. My answer is no they shouldn't.
Syedul Islam If that was the case I'm going back to the good old fashioned Nokia s
Humza Ahmed Is Apple that desperate? Paying for software updates is a new low, even for Apple.
Stephen Victor Preach, Keenan
Stephen Victor No. Ain't nobody got time for dat!
Mathieu Omoregie Why on earth would you pay for software updates that are gonna NEED updates. We all know it's never perfect and there's always a need for bugs and fixes when bugs and fixes are released. I'll be damned if I ever pay for software. They can't get it right now... That's all part of purchasing a phone. You get the hardware and software quality... But I won't pay for what I already deserve.
Mauka Side Only if the phone specs are awesome.
Brendan Breakdown Yes if they were good
Yasir Sohail Stop putting ideas in their heads phonedog.
Diego M Perez i would never pay to receive an update. why should i? i feel as though they should have a donate feature similar to xdaa maybe. but not a mandated cost. if your software blows then you didnt earn that money.
Maria Izabela Hell no!
Anthony Accurso If they actually do something new...
David I-Chen Lin I will pay for Windows Phone 9
Keenan Ochoa IPhone is a joke, its small because it's a girls phone. The os is stagnate and they all freaking look the same....ooh wow the 5 has an extra row of icons jump for joy! Lol Android has far surpassed ios with ice cream sandwich and jelly bean and will continue to dominate.
Alcantar Apple Oh if Apple does this I am soo done they have so much money from the 5 now there making a 5s wow what's next!?... I'm getting the Nexus 4!
Angel Ivanov iOS was and will every be FREE!
Isa Dukmenic Next TouchWiz totally :D
Cal Turner Oh Apple, you guys are the worst.
Jeremy Hass no way!
Jason Vargas Depends what it comes with
Jordan Mahr Well I could see iOS doing it, but Google's Android is free and open source. WIthout it, developers like the CM team wouldn't be able to hack and root and port legally anymore, and all those Chinese tablet companies would become illegal Chinese tablet companies.
Gian Carlo Mirasol Ofcourse! Apple! Touchwiz what? Unknown. Irrelevant.
Lawrence Lepes All depends! If the new Touchwiz comes out on the Galaxy Note 3, then yeah! I'll still be paying for it.
Susan Hugus Why should Apple ask a user to pay money for an upgrade when they have so much money sitting in the bank? I think at they owe their customers a thanks for buying their product. I really don't care since I have never had an Apple product, but it's time for any loyal customer to be supported by this very rich company.
C Bryan Thomas No that's part of the service. I wouldn't pay I would root and jailbreak and support the devs.
David Tambascio Hell no!!! CyanogenMod + Nova Launcher
Andrew Johnson Lol no way... Ever
Paul De Lozier Heck no techno.
Giovane Rocha iOS always!
Max N Relaxx No. I'd wait until it was absolutely necessary or until a new phone came along. This is a bad idea, the company who doesn't do it has a huge free advertising bonanza.
Andrew P. Novotny No, never. I already bought the phone and I'm paying for a service provider. Why should I have bend over backwards to use the most recent firmware on a phone I've already payed for? I'll tell you why, I shouldn't.
Jeff Cross No fucking way!
Lim Xilvre If for IOS and affordable pricing can be consider.. If Android.. no thanks.. the OS itself nvr been good.
Alex Park Why should we pay more when we're already paying $300 for a new phone and these companies are making billions of dollars of profits
Peter Blanco Lower phone prices, give me stock and if I WANT a skin (which I don't) I'll pay for it. Everyone is happy!
John Smith I wouldnt pay for either, so dont give em any ideas!
Vincent Tilghman lol... I still use the N900.
Rey Gonzalez samungs :D
Tomas Hernandez Sure I would pay, if the price is $0.10 and is stated in the agreement that the price will never, never, never increase. For me to pay a corporation I would just continue to support the xda developers. After all they do a better job with the roms they put together then the OEMs skins...
Brandon Coffey Absolutely not
Derek Lombardi No.. if that were the case.. root is free
Jason Allen Lucas Why, we already overpay for everything else.
Jaasiel Torres Only if the solfware updates come when they are announced
Jeffrey Hobbs I remember paying for an upgrade to the original ipod touch.
Hendrick Equis M yea no ill go ahead and flash
Jarmo Salmela Hell no.
Matt Roe NOPE iv already paid for the phone and the service! the least they can do is give me free software updates!!
Tyler Eggo Eggleston Apple charged for each version of iOS in the past. iOS 4 was the first free update.
Nick Ivey Samsung Mobile USA
Yaron Rosen of course touchwiz
Kevin Phillips I don't care if you will pay or not who holds the key
Mark Fisher Jr. I don't care. As long as the battery life is long lasting it's alright with me.
Nathan Lajoie Lol no way would I pay for updates. That's ridiculous
Angad Singh never....
Robert Salender Pay for WINDOWS Phone updates... Hahahahahaha...
Kevin Phillips for a minute here I thought we were switching to a subscription based software interface
Lanh Nguyen I'll buy that for a dollar!!!!!
Joey Robusto I'd pay a million bucks for my g2x to at least get ics even if its outdated. .
????????? ????? I'll donate to developers in XDA ... but wont pay for modded android.
Timus Maximus Hell no and apple sucks anyways :P
Amer Ahmed @Veronica you really missed what Abram said huh?
Luis Robles Figueroa It depends how much and long it takes.
Michael Parker @ Robert P you buy a computer for a about the same as your phone and when it comes time for a new O/S Microsoft and Apple charge. I dont see a small payment ($5-10) for a full OS version change (like 6.x to 7.x) that indrocuces many new features, but like others I would not pay for "bug" fixes or incremental upgrades.
Reese Woodson Hello no lol
Josh Jordan Are you kidding me.... Hell no....
Debbie Tighe McCann absolutely not
Anthony Scott Pancurak
Darwin Ayala If I'm paying for a premium smart phone like a galaxy s or iphone I shouldnt have to pay for updates if that how hing are going to be I'm going back to a basic phone
Tyler Franz Frodl I don't think anyone would... Don't they get enough when we buy our high end iPhone, Samsung , HTC, or Motorola phones? Probably won't happen.
Edward Ken Raganas all-in for samsung :)
Christian Jordan Nope, I've already got Android 4.2.1 on my SGS3, thanks to rooting and the dev community. Been doing it since the G1 and I'll do it on every device I own.
Eric Mitchell You all ask this every year. They are never (at least for a long time) going to charge us for updates.
Lucass Forward thats bullshit, apple wont charge us for iOS updates... you cant compare it to MAC OS.. its computer vs phone.. come on
Jordan Williams I like larry's style.
Said Issa I lol'd when I read that Apple claims their iOS is years ahead of other softwares with its features and crap...
Blake Salsgiver no. We pay enough for our phones.
Larry Ayonn I do pay for them, when I buy a Nexus phone, software updates are included ;)
Tyson Gosick No I'd do it manually
Camar Green Lol ios can't even get it right so why the F would I pay for it
Joshua Clark Is this a joke?
Steve Bachman Greedy bastards! Hell to the NO!
Ryan Bassil Yousif If they came out in a timely, non delayed manner, yes.
Justin Stempel we pay for computer updates .. win 8, Mountain Lion, etc ... why not, I could see them doing it.
Buckaroo Banzai I would prefer Motorola, but between those two - Samsung.
Tom Nguyen I don't care for updates that much. As long as my current firmware stays silky smooth. Sometimes updates makes problems worse. Who here has ever updated their phones to the newest firmware only to find out that now their phones aren't functioning as good as it used too. The updates are suppose to fix bugs but sometimes they just add more bugs
Daniel Savedbygrace Marquez @veronica well said
Viktor Oh Phones are already like $700.
Jane Johns NO, if they want us to use their device, they should upgrade for free. We pay somehow with hidden costs
Jeff Griffith Pay for IOS? No! I'll jailbreak for free though.
Freecky FreeWag I will buy an iPhone when they will put android inside ! hahahaha
Ian Baylon Imagine a fool pays for it and costs $50+ and all you get is an updated app store icon. Apple troll.
Paulo De Freitas No, I believe that buying a PREMIUM (Expensive) product like a Galaxy Note II or iPhone 5, entitles you to receive FREE updates, especially when most iOS updates are "bug-fixes", as iOS has not changed much since v1.0. As far as Samsung goes, they stop supporting a device after about 12-18 months after release anyway, so you will NOT be getting updates for TouchWiz after a year (that's from personal experience...!!!)
Agim Alion I would, as long as it's not bugs they're fixing on the current OS
Joe McDonough helll no
Jeremy KamiKaze ANDROID all the way
Tom Nguyen Crazy talk!
Veronica Thibodeau Tomlinson @Abram. It's funny because when there is an update Apple will send them all at the same time, where as android you're waiting months sometimes..for example jellybean took forever to get out to everyone. Know your facts!
Adrian C. Morcerf Depends how much the sw update costs.
Robert Pritts Pay that much for a phone and then hafta pay for updates I THINK NOT! ...will never pay to update my phone ...and these companies that start doing this ...guess what I wont be buying your phones.
Steve Williams neither.
Norleena Davies No way!!!!
Gordon Christie wouldnt pay for them would get Ubuntu phone later this year then updates would be free
Haroon Azeem PAY for software updates? LOL. What's XDA for?
Nemanja Obradovic Samsung.... :D
Marti Ruiz hell no.
Cesar Bulnes noooooooooooooooooooo......!!!!
Muhammad Sumair Saqib waiting for S4 !!
Abram Wenevermet Dennis Only if I had an Android.. because that's the only way you'd receive it on

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