By Sergey Priporov
Are your strategic choices challenged by the fragmentation in new mobile device platforms?
I didn’t participate in MWC event and I was watching the event remotely from California. Many experts and systems analysts did try to indicate their observations in technology and market trends such as e.g.: http://www.mobilebusinessbriefing.com/article/top-10-mwc-stories and http://www.ccsinsight.com/media-coverage/?p=630
From their point of view the top important indicators are as follows
• Mobile operators unite on global apps platform
• Google embraces mobile
• Microsoft fights back in OS war
• Samsung makes waves with bada
• Industry backs voice over LTE approach
• Nokia and Intel merge Linux platforms
• HTC & SonyEricsson launched many new Android phones
We can find many other press releases but it’s almost all about the OS wars and infrastructure and there is small piece of information about the future of mobile devices itself in terms of End User future experiences and devices new capabilities. This fact reflects the situation in Product Development infrastructure associated with new Android, WinM7 and MeeGo platforms.
Each of the platforms is targeting for multiple vendors but differentiation is not clear and becomes the key area to be success on the market.
Differentiation at this point
I have seen that Microsoft and Motorola were talking about data aggregation conception on different SW levels of mobile device and its reflection in UI. Conception is similar even if we are talking about different platforms.
Possible variants of differentiation
The trend is that Smart phone market place grows and forces out featured phones. At the same time the segment of the featured phones still is significant. I would like to take a look on Mobile Device possible differentiation from this point of view.
In reality the platforms for Smart phone development cover functionality of “featured“phones with simple calling and some other dedicated features. It means that the platform can support device transformation from simple functionality to smart prone advanced functionality.
How can it be used for products differentiation? Many customers are not ready to use smart phones and are considering to keep something simple. I think that OEMs may consider to design phones with SW which can transform device capabilities from simple featured phone (Low Tier) to Mid-Tier and finally to High-End smart phone. I mean that SW on the phone can have functionality scope configurable on fly depends on customer subscriptions (enabling on demand/disabling). This approach can be used to move customers from one market segment (Low Tier) to another one (High-End).
The BOM of the HW part is coming to be lower and lower year by year so it’s possible to ship Low-Tier phone with the same H/W as for Smart phone for all products baselines. Such type of phone can be configured by SW tailoring only. As an example we can see Android phones from Quanta Computer “TWM T1” for Taiwan Mobile and Commtiva Technology “Commtiva T1”. TWM T1 without operator calling plan has cost of $280 and “Commtiva T1” cost is $311. Qualcomm, Infineon, MediaTek and others are going to use Infineon XMM 6181 chip set which is ~$150. So Software may be a phone transformer.
Another option to transform phone functionality on fly by user demand is to install drivers and SW enablers for new functionality and new peripherals from SD card (obtained as a new service subscription). Some technologies (as LTE) are not deployed yet so it will be possible to upgrade phone with LTE capabilities as an example in future (LTE external Modems). It’s not App store approach, it’s SW components upgrade from OEMs along with new subscriptions by demand.
Software allows OEMs to implement incremental functionality change on fly by user demand as additional subscriptions. It may be a differentiator for OEMs.
• Featured phone with simple UI and basic functionality
• Capabilities to upgrade SW to Smart Phone simple functionality
• Capabilities to enable SW to Smart Phone advanced functionality
• SW Add-ins installation from SD card under DRM protection
• SW Add-ins installation from Operator downloading site
I would say that new Software platform configuration capabilities are potential way to differentiate devices. I cooked-up the term “Incremental Functionality Change on Fly” (IFConF).
Is it something to differentiate products? Let´s hear your comments!