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New iOS 6 features may hurt Apple local user confidence: analyst

TAIPEI--Apple Inc.'s new iOS 6 operating system may hurt Taiwanese consumers' support for Apple products because of features that are not yet geared to Chinese-language users, a Taipei-based analyst said recently.

Apple began allowing free downloads of its iOS 6 worldwide on Sept. 19, allowing current iPhone and iPad users to upgrade their devices directly or via iTunes software on computers.

However, Apple has launched too many applications — including its voice-activated assistant “Siri” and its own Maps — that are not yet fully ready for the Chinese-language market, cautioned Simon Yang, vice president of Topology Research Institute.

For example, the Chinese version of Siri currently has a low voice recognition rate of less than 90 percent, while some local users have complained that Apple's new Maps app caused them to get lost because it did not give them the right directions, Yang said.

Such episodes could lead to “a crisis of confidence” for Apple product users in Taiwan in the short term but would unlikely shift them away to other mobile platforms, he told CNA in a telephone interview.

“It is inevitable that consumers' support for Apple will decline. But they might endure such pains in the near term until Apple fixes the problems,” Yang said.

He said heavy Apple users in Taiwan might have already bought so many mobile apps and music on the iOS platform that it would be hard for them to switch to other devices running on the Android or Windows operating systems.

Speaking on Apple's changes during the past year since the company's co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs died in October 2011, Yang said Jobs' successor Tim Cook is taking Apple in a different direction.

Apple is trying to use the latest hardware specifications on its new products to help boost data revenue for its telecom partners, a strategy similar to Android phone makers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Taiwan's HTC Corp., Yang said.

These specifications include long-term evolution (LTE) super-fast wireless connectivity and a larger 4-inch screen on the Apple iPhone 5, which enable smoother video streaming services and generate higher data traffic for mobile providers, he said.

Since LTE connectivity is 10 times faster than the current 3G network, mobile carriers will be able to charge 15 percent more than their average monthly 3G data service cost, Yang said.

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