Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Platform strategy revisited

By Dr. Roger Hampel
Just recently, I got myself a new phone. It has plenty of new features while some of the ones already present in my old phone have been greatly enhanced. Nevertheless, it took me only a few minutes to get accustomed to it. Why so? It’s because the new phone is based on the same platform as the old one.

The mobile phone industry has seen the creation of a number of platforms. There are closed ones, created and used by a single OEM to leverage across multiple products and product lines (e.g. Nokia Series 40, Blackberry). Then, there are the ones available for licensing by other OEMs (e.g. Palm, BREW, Windows Mobile), the sort of half-open ones. And, just recently, open source platforms have arrived, available royalty-free to every OEM supporting the ecosystem around them (e.g. Android, Symbian).

The automotive infotainment market is still in the process of creating and establishing infotainment platforms. Microsoft Auto has been around for a while and was recently revamped. It can be experienced in Fiat’s Blue&Me as well as Ford SYNC systems. The GENIVI alliance was officially launched at this year’s CeBIT trade show, aiming to develop an open source IVI platform. And RTOS provider QNX just recently has also launched their QNX CAR program (Connected Automotive Reference), providing a reference platform for rapid prototyping and development of IVI systems.

So what to expect as a user? Expect shorter development cycles for IVI systems and improved compatibility and interoperability with mobile devices such as phones, media players, headsets, etc. Expect downloadable system and feature upgrades, application and content stores for automotive infotainment and improved user experience. Expect the car to become the ultimate phone accessory!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Easter

By Magnus Ingelsten
Now innovations are born. In economic downturns many new ideas are spurred. These are the times when people must be creative and go the extra mile to become more competitive and unique. We heard Al Gore at CTIA when he praised the momentum and direction of the mobile market: "Your industry is growing and providing new applications, products and services," he said. "It's amazing to think how quickly this revolution has occurred and how rapidly it's still growing."

I just bought an excellent Netbook with total wireless connectivity providing 3G, Wlan and Bluetooth for the price of a low -end feature phone or half the price of a high end smartphone. Imagine how we now can be totally wireless and mobile. My car updates its software while I am driving. I swipe my credit card in the smartcard slot under the dashboard on the offer to upgrade with an additional 12 horsepower because the developers came up with smart ways to control the engine management system. I could agree to buy a new GPS map update and got a notice from the GPS system, making me aware the my daughter is waiting at the bus stop , so I turn in to pick her up. Then the shopping list turns up on my in car display.. wife is online obviously...
Is this possible ? Of course it is and I am sure it is under development by our excellent engineers as we speak.
Oh, and my car display writes out a message from the nearby supermarket , that easter eggs are at half price. So happy easter!

Friday, April 3, 2009

CTIA it´s all about speed

By Andrew Till
In between the wall to wall meetings I managed to grab a quiet half an hour to walk the halls of this years CTIA in Las Vegas. As with other trade shows attendance was down (a much maligned topic of conversation of every taxi trip I took but I for one will not complain at being able to zip around Las Vegas from the strip to the convention centre in less than 10 minutes) but there were some interesting insights to be gained about the key themes in the market.
The most notable was the push for ever faster Mobile Broadband technologies. LTE was a clear focus of the show with Motorola and Siemens both very visible in pushing their credentials in the infrastructure space. Verizon used the show to announce its first round deployment partners for LTE with Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson both being selected. Aside from this there banners and positioning statements galore focused on the mobile broadband opportunity.
Net Applications latest March data, also released during the show, perhaps explains why the focus on mobile broadband is so strong. Not only are mobile users surfing more the competition between platforms is increasing with Android based devices growing strongly as a % of the overall mobile browsing user base and shaping us as a key competitor to the iPhone in the US market. This seems to show that clearly consumers we willing to keep spending on mobile internet services even in these credit crunched times. Of course I will refrain from noting the irony of having mobile broadband being heavily push in a city that seems to be many base stations short in the network coverage stakes!
And the focus is not restricted to the US market alone. Perhaps one of the most interesting announcements was Samsung’s new Netbook with integrated WiMax for the Russian market. The NC10 looks like a very interesting proposition with a 10inch display, Windows XP Home edition and a battery life of up 9 hours on a single charge.
So I for one am already looking forward to next years show and being able to test out those 4G speeds.