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 :)
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Demilo Dixon
Demilo Dixon no. greedy bastards just want more money.
Matt Cude
Matt Cude Hahaha no
Cookie Mitchell
Cookie Mitchell No
Michael Talbot
Michael Talbot Absolutely not...paying enough for phones already
Josef Ruiz
Josef Ruiz lol no Talent Trust - Offshore with a difference
Aadinath Kshirsagar
Aadinath Kshirsagar I'd rather pay for windows phone's next version!!!! trolled!!
Chase Michael Vandiver
Chase Michael Vandiver I remember back in the day I had to pay $5 for iOS 3 on my iPod touch.
Steven Pereira
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
Jayson Levin Or other os
Jayson Levin
Jayson Levin If you have a lot of people would switch to android
Jayson Levin
Jayson Levin No I would not
Jannis Anderson
Jannis Anderson never
Jude Fils-Aime
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
Mary Walker I guess it depends how much it costs, and if it was worth it.
Nick Koval
Nick Koval Lol more reason for ppl to get on board with android:-)
Kevin Eusebio
Kevin Eusebio sponsored by Verizon Wireless? looks like VZW looking for another way to overcharge their customers...
Suryo Lee
Suryo Lee Never
Bill Stewart
Bill Stewart Save your money and get a Samsung Android phone.
Justin Charles Reback
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
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
Syedul Islam If that was the case I'm going back to the good old fashioned Nokia s
Tommy Sean
Tommy Sean No
Eddie Velasquez
Eddie Velasquez No
Andres Barroeta
Andres Barroeta Yes
Humza Ahmed
Humza Ahmed Is Apple that desperate? Paying for software updates is a new low, even for Apple.
Stephen Victor
Stephen Victor Preach, Keenan
Stephen Victor
Stephen Victor No. Ain't nobody got time for dat!
Cheryl Davis
Cheryl Davis NO!!!
Mathieu Omoregie
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
Mauka Side Only if the phone specs are awesome.
Steven Franklin Jr.
Steven Franklin Jr. YeA
Brendan Breakdown
Brendan Breakdown Yes if they were good
Yasir Sohail
Yasir Sohail Stop putting ideas in their heads phonedog.
Sebastian Gomes
Sebastian Gomes Nope
Diego M Perez
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
Maria Izabela Hell no!
Anthony Accurso
Anthony Accurso If they actually do something new...
David I-Chen Lin
David I-Chen Lin I will pay for Windows Phone 9
Keenan Ochoa
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.
Ian Walker
Ian Walker No
Alcantar Apple
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
Angel Ivanov iOS was and will every be FREE!
Isa Dukmenic
Isa Dukmenic Next TouchWiz totally :D
Jim Marshall III
Jim Marshall III Nope!!!
Viktor B Thumperofseals
Viktor B Thumperofseals It depends
Cal Turner
Cal Turner Oh Apple, you guys are the worst.
Jeremy Hass
Jeremy Hass no way!
Jason Vargas
Jason Vargas Depends what it comes with
Jordan Mahr
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.
Justin Tardogno
Justin Tardogno Um, no.
Gian Carlo Mirasol
Gian Carlo Mirasol Ofcourse! Apple! Touchwiz what? Unknown. Irrelevant.
Lawrence Lepes
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
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
C Bryan Thomas No that's part of the service. I wouldn't pay I would root and jailbreak and support the devs.
Dayan Inclán
Dayan Inclán No
David Tambascio
David Tambascio Hell no!!! CyanogenMod + Nova Launcher
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson Lol no way... Ever
Douglas M. Smith
Douglas M. Smith NO!
Javier Sanchez Ojeda
Javier Sanchez Ojeda No
Paul De Lozier
Paul De Lozier Heck no techno.
Giovane Rocha
Giovane Rocha iOS always!
Max N Relaxx
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
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
Jeff Cross No fucking way!
Lim Xilvre
Lim Xilvre If for IOS and affordable pricing can be consider.. If Android.. no thanks.. the OS itself nvr been good.
Alex Park
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
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!
Justin Charles Reback
Justin Charles Reback No.
John Smith
John Smith I wouldnt pay for either, so dont give em any ideas!
Vincent Tilghman
Vincent Tilghman lol... I still use the N900.
Rey Gonzalez
Rey Gonzalez samungs :D
Lee Simmons
Lee Simmons No
Tomas Hernandez
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...
Angel Ortiz
Angel Ortiz NO
Brandon Coffey
Brandon Coffey Absolutely not
Derek Lombardi
Derek Lombardi No.. if that were the case.. root is free
Jason Allen Lucas
Jason Allen Lucas Why, we already overpay for everything else.
Jaasiel Torres
Jaasiel Torres Only if the solfware updates come when they are announced
Jeffrey Hobbs
Jeffrey Hobbs I remember paying for an upgrade to the original ipod touch.
Nic Kolas
Nic Kolas F no
Hendrick Equis M
Hendrick Equis M yea no ill go ahead and flash
Jarmo Salmela
Jarmo Salmela Hell no.
Matt Roe
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
Tyler Eggo Eggleston Apple charged for each version of iOS in the past. iOS 4 was the first free update.
Nick Ivey
Nick Ivey Samsung Mobile USA
Eric Ambrose
Eric Ambrose No!
Yaron Rosen
Yaron Rosen of course touchwiz
Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips I don't care if you will pay or not who holds the key
Mark Fisher Jr.
Mark Fisher Jr. I don't care. As long as the battery life is long lasting it's alright with me.
Nathan Lajoie
Nathan Lajoie Lol no way would I pay for updates. That's ridiculous
Winoss Wael
Winoss Wael I do
Angad Singh
Angad Singh never....
Robert Salender
Robert Salender Pay for WINDOWS Phone updates... Hahahahahaha...
Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips for a minute here I thought we were switching to a subscription based software interface
Lanh Nguyen
Lanh Nguyen I'll buy that for a dollar!!!!!
Joey Robusto
Joey Robusto I'd pay a million bucks for my g2x to at least get ics even if its outdated. .
Richard Halm
Richard Halm no
????????? ?????
????????? ????? I'll donate to developers in XDA ... but wont pay for modded android.
LaDana Bias Ballard
LaDana Bias Ballard Uuuuuuh no
Timus Maximus
Timus Maximus Hell no and apple sucks anyways :P
Amer Ahmed
Amer Ahmed @Veronica you really missed what Abram said huh?
Nick Petrizzio
Nick Petrizzio No
Luis Robles Figueroa
Luis Robles Figueroa It depends how much and long it takes.
Kris Reno Harris
Kris Reno Harris No way
Michael Parker
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
Reese Woodson Hello no lol
Josh Jordan
Josh Jordan Are you kidding me.... Hell no....
Debbie Tighe McCann
Debbie Tighe McCann absolutely not
Anthony Scott Pancurak
Anthony Scott Pancurak
Brian J. Moore
Brian J. Moore HellNaw
Darwin Ayala
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 Frodl
Tyler 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
Edward Ken Raganas all-in for samsung :)
Christian Jordan
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
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
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
Jordan Williams I like larry's style.
Said Issa
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
Blake Salsgiver no. We pay enough for our phones.
Meghan Hopper
Meghan Hopper No
Larry Ayonn
Larry Ayonn I do pay for them, when I buy a Nexus phone, software updates are included ;)
Eric Wainright
Eric Wainright No
Tyson Gosick
Tyson Gosick No I'd do it manually
Camar Green
Camar Green Lol ios can't even get it right so why the F would I pay for it
Joshua Clark
Joshua Clark Is this a joke?
Steve Bachman
Steve Bachman Greedy bastards! Hell to the NO!
Ryan Bassil Yousif
Ryan Bassil Yousif If they came out in a timely, non delayed manner, yes.
Justin Stempel
Justin Stempel we pay for computer updates .. win 8, Mountain Lion, etc ... why not, I could see them doing it.
Linda Beheller Mazziotti
Linda Beheller Mazziotti No
Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai I would prefer Motorola, but between those two - Samsung.
Terrence Sebastine Chuniesingh
Terrence Sebastine Chuniesingh no
Tom Nguyen
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
Daniel Savedbygrace Marquez @veronica well said
Viktor Oh
Viktor Oh Phones are already like $700.
Jane Johns
Jane Johns NO, if they want us to use their device, they should upgrade for free. We pay somehow with hidden costs
Jeff Griffith
Jeff Griffith Pay for IOS? No! I'll jailbreak for free though.
George Majao
George Majao None
Freecky FreeWag
Freecky FreeWag I will buy an iPhone when they will put android inside ! hahahaha
Ian Baylon
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
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
Agim Alion I would, as long as it's not bugs they're fixing on the current OS
Joe McDonough
Joe McDonough helll no
Jeremy KamiKaze
Jeremy KamiKaze ANDROID all the way
Dustin T. Robles
Dustin T. Robles No way
Tom Nguyen
Tom Nguyen Crazy talk!
Veronica Thibodeau Tomlinson
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
Adrian C. Morcerf Depends how much the sw update costs.
Robert Pritts
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
Steve Williams neither.
Norleena Davies
Norleena Davies No way!!!!
Jaden T. Brown
Jaden T. Brown Hell no
Gordon Christie
Gordon Christie wouldnt pay for them would get Ubuntu phone later this year then updates would be free
Fabio Jason
Fabio Jason no
Haroon Azeem
Haroon Azeem PAY for software updates? LOL. What's XDA for?
Nemanja Obradovic
Nemanja Obradovic Samsung.... :D
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz hell no.
Cesar Bulnes
Cesar Bulnes noooooooooooooooooooo......!!!!
Muhammad Sumair Saqib
Muhammad Sumair Saqib waiting for S4 !!
Stephen Wagner
Stephen Wagner No.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis
Abram Wenevermet Dennis Only if I had an Android.. because that's the only way you'd receive it on
Anthony Mendez
Anthony Mendez no.
Gilberto Lopez
Gilberto Lopez No!!!!

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