The Mobile Lowdown 05-05-11: Apple Updates; HP; Android Share; Nortel

Our look at some of the big stories in mobile today: Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) reportedly to start over-the-air OS updates; HP (NYSE: HPQ) beefs up execs for WebOS outside the U.S.; another report outlining Android’s dominance in market share; more interested parties for Nortel’s patents.

Apple: This should come as welcome news to a lot of iPhone users…if it turns out to be correct. Apple will start making over-the-air updates to its iOS operating system come this fall, writes the blog 9to5mac. Up to now, users of the iPhone, and other iOS-based products like the iPod Touch and the iPad, have had to plug their devices into their computers, and synchronize with iTunes, in order to get system updates.

The blog reports that these will come into effect when Apple releases iOS 5. While iOS 5 will still require synching via iTunes, subsequent “point” updates to that will not. The first carrier to sign on for this will be Verizon, it writes, and the update facilities may also eventually extend to other iOS devices.

Other operating systems such as Android and WebOS already feature OTA updates, which is significantly more convenient for the many users that do not or cannot regularly synchronise their devices to their PCs.

HP: One sign that HP is serious about its push on WebOS and mobile products. It has made an executive appointment outside the U.S. to beef up its WebOS activities, appointing Jukka Tiitu as vice president of HP webOS and carrier markets for EMEA. In an emailed release, the company said Tiitu will be responsible for all activities associated with HP’s webOS portfolio, including the operating system, smartphones and slates, and have accountability for EMEA carrier channels — that is, the deals that HP strikes with mobile operators to distribute and promote the device.

Interestingly, Tiitu is joining HP from Nokia (NYSE: NOK), where he was responsible for Nokia’s mobile phone, smartphone and service business in Benelux.

Android share: Q1 figures from the analysts at Canalys provide one more set of proof points about the leading position Android has in smartphones at the moment. The Google (NSDQ: GOOG) OS was the market leader with 35.7 million units shipped, which worked out to a 35 percent share. This is the second quarter that Android has been in the lead. Meanwhile, Asia Pacific was — for the first time since Q3 2007 — the largest region for smartphones, with 37.3 million units shipped, out of a worldwide total of 101 million units.

Nortel: One more party interested in Nortel’s wireless patents. RPX — a patent-buying firm that represents a number of consumer electronics and mobile companies, including Nokia, Samsung and Sony (NYSE: SNE) — could be throwing its hat into the ring, writes Bloomberg. RPX would most likely be representing a consortium of buyers, who would have to pay at least $929 million for the assets, following a $900 million stalking-horse bid from Google in April.