GSMA Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona has two days under its belt and already more mobile devices of all shapes and sizes than you can shake a stick at (and likely a stick that is connected to a wearable device that will tell you how that shake just improved your fitness).
Mobile includes the car
Again this year, what is "mobile" is not necessary wearable or portable, as Ford unveiled its new 2015 Ford Focus. The Focus, which will hit the markets in late 2014, features a new 8-inch touch screen display that includes SYNC 2 and connectivity features with smartphones.
MWC also continued its Car Connectivity Symposium for developers; promoting the car as an integral piece of the next generation connected and integrated device. Of course, like at CES 2014, there have been a number of auto infotainment solutions presented, such as the announcement of AT&T joining an integrated car solution from Qualcomm, RedBend, and QuickPlay Media. Qualcomm and QNX Software also provided demos of the CES 2014 announced QNX CAR™ Platform Demo showcased in a Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, moving concept cars closer to reality for showroom ready cars with a range of onboard connectivity to support driver information, increased safety and navigation support, as well as added entertainment features for passengers.
Ericsson and Volvo have also paired up at MWC this year to present their vision of the autonomous driving car. The Swedish partnering presents an interesting concept vision of the future of truly driver assisted vehicles, exploring the many interconnects necessary in a single vehicle offered here as an early concept demo.
Speaking of smartphones, yes, there are more than many on display at MWC this year, of course! Interesting to note is that even among the top unveilings we'd been expecting, the high-end smartphone category is notably shrinking in favor of under US $200 targets to diversify (appropriately) for the (back on track) emerging market growth. We are definitely seeing the design and pricing strategies coming from smartphone OEMs at MWC in light of the concerns regarding saturation points for high-end devices. Trying to extend the reach of smartphones into a wider swath of the global population is a natural strategic opportunity – being able to pull it off with a device that can meet price points and provide a good leap frog from the 2013 feature phones that hit the global marketplace is a true challenge. Last year Nokia provided a full line-up to address the needs across the global marketplace, and this year we see a significant increase in the strategic positioning of OEMs to provide different device and feature options for emerging markets.
Blackberry is showing its new emerging market focus this year at MWC, with the release of the sub-$200 smartphone for the Asian market. The Blackberry Z3 builds on the trademark Blackberry features but in devices that are going to (hopefully) recoup some of the lost territory that Blackberry wants and needs to continue to hold meaningful market share. In Blackberry's Z3, the continued push for a diversified smartphone strategy is held front-and-center from last year's MWC.
Samsung's Galaxy S5 is certainly hitting the news points for its focus not on the next flash and glam but rather on the improvement of what it is offering to users and the step-up on all the most important features while keeping a close eye on competitive pricing.
Is bigger better for processors?
All this is happening in the face of the onslaught of 64-bit processors continue to move from the PC to smartphone and tablet devices, following in Apple's A7 footsteps. The question still rings loudly, is this overkill still for today's devices, or is this really the opening of a new route for capability expansion? Intel's new Atom lineup is dedicated to supporting the Internet of Things (IoT) through 64-bit, quad-core processors partnering with "[…] Lenovo, ASUS and Foxconn to expand the availability of Intel-based mobile devices." Similarly, "[…] MediaTek announced its entry into the 64-bit processor market with the MT6732 quad core smartphone processor with integrated LTE modem […]."
Qualcomm also extended their Snapdragon line up with 610 and 615, while upping the ante with the announcement of their new 64-bit octa-core chipset, Snapdragon 615. According to Qualcomm's Murthy Renduchintala, executive vice president and co-president, "64-bit processing capabilities are now an industry requirement for this tier, and we are meeting our customers' needs with both octa- and quad-core configurations, as well as bringing our superior Adreno 405 graphics and powerful suite of connectivity technologies to the Snapdragon 600 family of chipsets."
There's much more to come from MWC and the wearable (or not so wearable) device explosion is still rippling through the halls in Barcelona. Stay connected!