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MWC Rings Loudly with Renewed Smartphone Competition Touting Quad-Core and Features


Barcelona is again the buzz with close to 80,000 at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012, and is now in full swing with exhibitors just as busy as they were at CES last month.  The hottest news comes from both ends of the handset and tablet spectrum (see this round up from ElectronicsFeed, and here for Samsung's latest tablet announcements by ComputerWorld). We are seeing the (expected) roll-out of quad-core smartphones alongside of a renewed mid- and lower priced line up to meet the demands of the more frugal and the emerging market purchaser (see this on Intel's plans from ComputerWorld).


This class of handsets opens smartphones to larger consumer populations with the significant price declines for the average and less-rich devices (see here from ComputerWorld's review of Nokia's low end phone push).  As the high-end smartphones move to a superphone category with quad-core chipsets and advanced audio, video and camera features (see here for more from ComputerWorld on HTC's MWC unveiling).

One of the biggest questions around advances in smartphone technology is battery life (see here from WSJ).  While more and more computing and mobilizing capabilities are on the increase, and consumers and enterprise users alike rely on their smart wireless devices (SWDs) to do just about everything, battery life has remained static.  However, this static battery capability actually means a decrease in battery life with present chip architectures and device designs requiring more power to fulfill user demands.  Space and weight are among the greatest problems for battery design at a time when light and slim reign (see more here from ComputerWorld).

How to respond to the demands of both advanced computing, mobilizing, and audio/video features PLUS improved battery life?  One of the critical solutions that will positively impact both the wider semiconductor industry and the SWD market is the rise of complex chipsets.  Complex chipsets (stacked, multi-core, and/or complex IC design on single chips) not only deliver improved functionality and decreased latency, they also require less power due to reduced power loss and heat.  The smaller, 28 nanometer architectures that we see for 2H12 devices, such as from ST-Ericsson here reviewed by ElectronicsWeekly, coupled with the devices in between the tablet and phone sizing, such as the releases from Asus in the 'Padphone' line up (see here from ComputerWorld) that allows for a larger battery while leveraging complex chipsets.

All in all, there are many exciting new handset and tablet (and in-between) unveilings at MWC, with more news certain to come as this week in Barcelona continues.  With all of these feature, chipset (and hopefully soon battery) improvements, demand for high-end through lower priced devices should continue at a healthy pace.  If we couple this positive market view with the most recent news on healthy inventory levels (see here from ElectroIQ), it looks like our forecasts for a good year in 2012 for the industry may just come to fruition.

Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.
Written on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 10:41 by Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.

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