By Andrew Till
Being home on safe ground after a very hectic Barcelona adventure filled with meetings around the clock, here is my final take on what stand out as the MWC 2010 observations.
A big theme of the show walking round the halls was multi-screen content and how to best solve this challenge. This ranges from simply being able to move media between devices through to devices powering more than one display. Will this challenge be made easier or harder given all that is happening with operating system platforms remains unclear but what is clear is that this is going to be a key battle ground between the major consumer electronics vendors who have a wide range of device types in their arsenal and everyone else. There are of course a number of different aspects to this challenge and a number of different solutions we on show at the event.
Adobe was pushing its latest versions of Flash for mobile with much interesting being expressed in Flash 10.1 and its ability to be used in handsets especially for the Android platform (helped by Google giving away Nexus Ones with Flash support at the show). Clearly being able to enjoy regular flash content on the web from your mobile device is a compelling proposition and one that is making many content publishers take notice.
Another company demonstrating solutions to this challenge was Antix who provide a solution to sharing games between different devices and being able to take advantage of the largest display available. Given the continued momentum and revenue generation around mobile games then a solution that further enhances the user experience should provide to be compelling.
Another take on multi screens was on show at the TI stand as then showed their OMAP 4 platform running Android powering two separate displays with a number of compelling use cases such as browsing the media gallery on one display and viewing a selected picture in full screen mode on the other. Of course we at Teleca were very excited by this demonstrator given our engagement with TI to bring it to life.
Although DLNA was perhaps less in evidence than expected there was also a lot of discussion around media streaming between handsets, STBs, TVs, PCs, in car entertainment systems, etc and how to further simplify the user experiences and interaction models.
Wherever approach wins out, if indeed it will just be one, it seems clear that the ability to seamlessly move content between devices or to leverage move than one screen for content consumption is going to be a driver of differentiation in 2010/11.
Aside from the general discussion around Android releases and new handset announcements it is also clear that Android is rapidly moving beyond handsets and in to many other types of devices.
We have already some PMP devices launch with Android but it now appears to be rapidly penetrating a wide range of consumer electronics and automotive market segments. While many are interested in Android due to it being open source and highly customisable the ability to leverage the application and service ecosystem is proving to be easily as attractive. At MWC 2011 I expect to see a wide range of device types using Android and delivering advanced connected services.
Rich reference platforms
Another interesting change has been the continued move by silicon vendors to move away from just supplying chipsets to offering a much richer reference platform. Walking round the show this trend has clearly moved forwards again from demonstrating reference platforms to showing prototypes for differentiation. For example a number of companies where showing modified versions of Android running dual displays , others were showing enhanced multimedia support and others in some cases completely new UI concepts were on display (I personally really liked the TAT demonstration on the TI stand).
LTE is back
Perhaps the largest change of the whole show was the issue of network congestion due to data services. Only a few years ago operators were desperate to get their hands on compelling applications to drive data services and data revenues outside SMS. With the rapid growth of mobile browsers and application usage network congestion now seems to be the issue of the day. Hence LTE was very much back in the limelight at the show with every operator and infrastructure vendor pushing their LTE story.
Of particular concern was the roadmap for LTE handsets and how to accelerate time to market for these. Expect LTE to be a major feature of handset launches at next years show as everyone seeks to benefit from the explosion in consumer data usage and mobile browsing. Building on the point above I would not expect LTE to be confined to Smartphones but also to be a key feature of ebooks, tablets and PMPs.
Perhaps my final comment on change is the shift from clarity to confusion about how to differentiate product offerings. With form factors increasingly looking the same and a wider use of “smartphone” platforms in product portfolio’s it appears that many vendors are now finding it harder and harder to identify differentiation opportunities that can be easily communicated to consumers. Of course modifying UIs is on option but this then runs the risk of losing easy consumer recognition of the platform especially if the vendor is seeking to leverage the platform owners marketing support. It will be interesting to see how this plays out will it result in stagnation or a new and more intensive wave of innovation. Lets hope it’s the latter.
At the start of this blog I intended to write a short summary of my thoughts. Clearly I have failed but hopefully I have been able to share a flavour of the key developments from this years show. As I stated in the first part of this blog for me it was all about change. For me this is a big positive. It shows that the industry remains highly creative and innovative and that no one can afford to stand still without running the risk of a new entrant making them obsolete.
What a great industry to be involved in.
Read first part and other blogs at http://whatsyourideaoftomorrow.blogspot.com/