As expected, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference was light on direct impacts to the wireless space, with the biggest spotlight shinning on the company’s laptop computers. Those devices include higher-performance specifications, reconfigured auxiliary ports and in some cases crisper screen resolutions, but will not include embedded cellular support.
The presentation also did not include any significant updates to the company’s iPad or iPhone devices, which to this point have had a more direct impact on the wireless space. Apple earlier this year rolled out an updated iPad device that included support for Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility’s LTE networks, while most expect similar support to be included in a significant iPhone update later this year.
One piece of newness that could impact wireless carriers was the announcement of updates to its mobile operating system, which will be dubbed iOS 6 when its released later this year – presumably ahead of the next iPhone iteration. Updates from the current iOS 5 version include expanded compatibility for its Siri voice-assistance service for the iPad and into automotive applications, an in-house designed map application and cellular compatibility for its FaceTime video calling service.
The FaceTime enhancement could have the greatest impact on cellular operators. The service was launched originally with support for Wi-Fi only connections, which limited the scope of its mobility. The oversight was even more apparent as a number of offerings flooded the application market allowing iPhone users to indeed place video calls from their device.
Some analysts have noted that FaceTime manages to handle video traffic in a more efficient manner than competing video calling services, though if consumers were to add FaceTime usage to their current iPhone or iPad data sessions they could see themselves move closer or even exceed capped data packages.
Expanding Siri to new devices would likely have a smaller impact on the mobile space as while the service does rely on a data connection, that reliance is fairly small.
Apple’s plans to use an in-house mapping application could have a broader impact on the mobile space as to this point the company has relied on Google’s Map application across its mobile devices. This has allowed Google to rake in significant usage of its offering that it has turned into revenue-generating eyeballs. Apple’s Map service will now be the default mapping and navigation service in iOS 6, which could put a dent in Google’s mobile revenues.
The Apple Map service also includes new features, like a flyover function with “3D” mapping that could place additional strain on cellular networks tasked with transmitting those images, though compared with more tasking video streaming should not disrupt cellular operations.
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