Ronnie05's Blog

Mediatek continues to disrupt the Tablet markets: Strategic Analytics

Posted in Device Platforms, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on October 17, 2013

4 months back i had blogged about How Mediatek (MTK) would disrupt tablet markets in SouthEast Asian Markets. According to the latest tablet CPU share report from Strategy Analytics, MediaTek is on a roll in the tablet space, now practically tied with Samsung as the second biggest supplier of tablet chipsets.

MTK

The global tablet processor market registered 46 percent year-on-year growth to reach USD 759 million in the second quarter. Apple still dominates the market with its A5 and A6X processors and it enjoyed a 34% revenue share in the second quarter. Samsung and MediaTek had about 10% each, although Samsung was in a slim lead. Marvell and Qualcomm also made some progress in Q2, while Intel and Nvidia are expected to gain share in the second half of the year.

MediaTek scored significant design-wins with Acer, Asus and Lenovo. MediaTek’s tactics of releasing stand-alone applications processors for the tablet market coupled with its reference design know-how have propelled its share to double-digits in the tablet applications processor market.

During Q2 2013, Marvell and Qualcomm also made good progress, thanks to their high-profile tablet design-wins. Strategy Analytics believes that Intel with its Bay Trail chip and NVIDIA with its Tegra 4 chip are also poised for tablet applications processor market share growth in the second half of 2013.

iWatch: Time for Apple Magic (desperately need some)

Posted in Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on September 18, 2013

“I think the wrist is interesting” – Tim Cook

A compelling solution on the wrist is what Apple is focussed about as the next path of evolution in devices. Apple has also filled for a patent for an advanced wearable computer in the form of a bracelet that also doubles up as a watch.Apple’s patent details include:

1) A flexible substrate having a flat state and a curled state.
2) A flexible display disposed upon a first surface of the flexible substrate, where in the curled state the flexible substrate conforms to an appendage of the end-user.
3) The flexible substrate also includes an electronic module in communication with the flexible display, the electronic module providing information to the display, at least a part of which is presented in real time for presentation by the display.
4) The patent also states the use of a solar panel beneath the display of the watch as well as energy from the body movements/kinetics

Apple iWatch
Source: Patently Apple

In terms of features, one would expect a lot of sensors to go with the iWatch as is evident from the recent hiring trend at Apple (they have been picking up people from AccuVein, C8 MediSensors and Senseonics. Sensors would be key to Apple’s iWatch as it prepares to take the technology game into the “state of being” – Keiros as i had earlier blogged about.

Applw iWatch 2

The other definite spot on the Apple iWatch belongs to AMOLED/ OLED screens as light sources to use the light as a probe to collect a variety of biological information backed by a very high fidelity light sensor/ detector.

Apple has a lot of competence in the sensor space which it acquired a series of sport related patents from PhatRat years ago which covered medical sensor strips and a body area network that we reported on back in early 2010.

Apple also has launched the M7 motion coprocessor in the iPhone 5s. The key task of this processor would be to collect motion data (via accelerometer, compass and gyroscope). Apple could bring in a whole new generation of more advanced health and fitness apps based on this processor. The magic about M7 also stems from its “contextual sensitivity”. The processor identifies user movement and can tell apps if the user is stationary, walking, or driving based.

To keep the ball rolling, Apple had a striking message in the WWIDC on creation and focus – and in the order of Apple’s culture – it is telling..

Apple 2

For the sake of the next in technology – let us hope the iWatch be the deliverence of Apple. The Apple that we have missed of late!

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Multicores powering Smartness!

Posted in Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on September 7, 2013

Multiple cores for smartphone apps processor chips is an increasing trend, reports Strategy Analytics, with 66% of smartphones using multi-cores in H1 2013 – double the amount of H1 2012.

Multi-core penetration continues to rise and, by end of this year, could cross 75% with smartphones containing multi-core processors now selling for under $100.

Processors Smartphones

Qualcomm leads in the multi-core market, Spreadtrum in the single core.

For the first time, multi-cores out-shipped single-core in Q3 2012, thanks to strong traction for flagship chips such as Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 and low-cost Cortex-A5 / Cortex-A7 chips from multiple vendors.

Quad-core smartphone applications processor shipments registered five-fold growth in 1H 2013 compared to 1H 2012, while single-core smartphone applications processor shipments declined by 14% in the same period.

Qualcomm led themutli-core market with 43% volume share followed by Apple, Samsung, MediaTek and ST-Ericsson in 1H 2013.

Qualcomm overtook Apple to become the leading multi-core vendor in Q4 with in the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 among others.

NVIDIA’s upcoming LTE Tegra chip Tegra 4i could generate more volume in the smartphone market.

HiSilicon, Huawei’s in-house silicon designer, has its K3V2 quad-core chip. Broadcom, Intel, Marvell and Spreadtrum started shipping multi-cores in 1H 2013.

Single-core has the highest baseband-integrated chip penetration while quad-core segment has the lowest baseband-integrated chip penetration. This can be attributed to time-to-market advantage with stand-alone applications processors.

While it is debatable how many number of cores would be enough, the market is expected to see the first true octa core chip from MediaTek later this year.

New Cell Phone Radiation Norms: Death for the GSM phones/ 3G gets a shot in the arm

Posted in Device Platforms, Technology impact on economy and population by Manas Ganguly on September 1, 2013

The new radiation norms for mobile phones in India will come into effect from today. This entails no more than 1.6 watts over 6 minutes of usage. All handsets to be sold in India from now on will have to display exact how much radiation they emit/ SAR value.

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With the new SAR norm, India would become one of few countries that are following the most stringent norm of 1.6 watt per kg average over six minutes period on 1 gram of human tissue.

This would be the death knell to the GSM standard mobile handsets in favour of the WCDMA/3G handsets. Devices on the WCDMA/3G/CDMA platform are inherently less harmful than mobiles on GSM standard as has been proven by the following studies-

1. Studies by Joel Moskowitz at UC Berkeley indicate GSM phones to emit 28 times more radiations compared to CDMA/WCDMA/3G phones.
2. The November 2009 issue of “Journal of Clinical Oncology,” indicates usage studies on GSM/WCDMA standards indicate that 37 percent of GSM phone studies indicated a link to tumor risks. About 15 percent of WCDMA/3G phone studies found a similar link.
3. April 2011 issue of the “International Journal of Science Technology and Management cites GSM cell phones to increase brain activity between four and 24 times greater than WCDMA/3G cell phones.
4. The reason for the difference between EM radiation of GSM versis CDMA/WCDMA cell phones is the use of higher transmission/transmitter power. On an average, GSM phones use 2watt/sec transmission power, where as WCDMA/CDMA technology uses a tenth of that power (200 mWatt/sec). This is manifested by the higher dBm (deciBell milliWatt) ratings of the GSM phones.

While exposure to EM Radiation cannot be strictly zeroed on cell phone usage – annecdotal evidence supports cell phone usage with increase in exposure to radiation. Exposure can be minimized by use of landline phones, phones on CDMA/WCDMA standards and use of earphones to increase the distance between the human body and the device.

This new regulatory statute would thus serve in favour of WCDMA handsets and would kill off GSM devices on the whole. Increasing WCDMA volumes would also mean greater affordability for such devices – and thus the economies of scale and penetration would step in.

The tale of two Steves- Bee and Jay

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on August 28, 2013

The two Steves- Bee and Jay have been vanguards of technology – and yet the difference between them couldnot have been stark. Everything Jay was Bee wasn’t. Bee’s accomplishments are an antithesis of the achievements of Jay. This is the follow up on my earlier post – Microsoft’s lost decade and it looks down upon (Literally) on Bee’s big judgement errors….

Bee and Jay

A good part of the 90s and early 2000s will be remembered as Microsoft’s decade – and Microsoft was the most dominant force in the technology space, the Alpha-male in technology. The ubiquitous Wintel partnership as it was then however fell behind the Moore’s law and grossly underestimated the migration from desk stationed devices to handhelds. Even while Microsoft had launched its Windows Mobile in 2000 and brought out the first tablet in 2000, Gates, Ballmer & Co misread the shifting sands in personal computing and were unable to capitalize on both these fronts. On hindsight, Microsoft did not open up to the eco-system effects and benefits – and were more happy selling proprietary licenses – A lack of flair and foresight there, which precipitated into a losses that we see today. Put simply – The world has moved faster that Microsoft’s licensed software business model could respond (Analyst Ted Sandler)

Here’s comparing how the two Steve’s measure up on different and yet common device, technology and platform initiatives-

Apple versus Microsoft - the story of two Steves

The list doesnot quite stop there – There’s Microsoft’s wasteful effort on Bing versus Google and its advetures with XBox and Kinect versus Playstation. To me Xbox and Kinect were ideal innovations – but Microsoft and Bee failed to push it… across platforms. Microsoft worked across disparate platforms and was never able to integrate the customer experience across devices and platforms. And then again, projects such as Microsoft courier never saw the light of the day – the plug pulled out through half way.

Bluntly put – Technology is one thing – the ability to conceptualize the portfolio, integrating the services in a manner of user experience that is engaging and habit forming, a layer by layer structured format of business allowing scalability of services and devices into different domains is something that Ballmer missed upon very completely. Take an Apple for instance – It started with an iPod, created a layer of services around it (iTunes), scaled the device into new form factors , upstaged the Music industry, leveraged the design into a smartphone (iPhone), scaled up another service layer (Application Store), upstaged the industry and leveraged it yet again for new device/dimension (iPad) and upstaged the industry all over again – there is this continuity in design, form factor, service, portfolio and monetization streams. Instead Microsoft had a Windows media Player, a Zune, a Zune Media Store, an Xbox and a Kinect, a Surface – they are all great pieces plagued by a discontinuity. The best examples being xBox and Kinect – good innovations, mind numbing possibilities and yet these innovations have struggled to give Microsoft worthwhile mileage.

What they said ... when Steve was asked to retire is not all that great!

What they said … when Steve was asked to retire is not all that great!

Steve (Jay) put the Microsoft problem in a neatly worded statement: “ The trouble with Microsoft is they have no taste. They have no taste and I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way.” Absolutely right Steve! Ballmer’s successor clearly has an awful lot of work to do….

Smartphones eating out Digital Camera segment

Posted in Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on August 9, 2013

Traditional Camera makers face tougher times in markets with higher smartphone penetration.

digital Camera

As smartphones with better cameras and increasingly sophisticated optics become the de-facto camera for consumers, camera majors such as Canon and Nikon are cutting their forecasts as camera markets entering long term declines. Consumers value the social networking aspect of smartphone cameras, which allow sharing of images immediately. Secondly the key is convergence and having to carry only one device and the convenience of a single terminal. In July 2013, Canon lowered its full year profit forecast by 16%. Nikon followed this by cutting profit forecasts, especially due to slow down in the digital camera segment.

Slowly and steadily, Cameras are getting sidelined as specialized devices that cater to specific types of users, such as professionals and advanced amateurs. Worldwide camera shipments fell 29 percent in the first five months of 2013, according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association in Tokyo. IDC mirrors this sentiment and forecasts that the global digital camera market is forecast to shrink 29 percent to 102 million units next year compared with 144 million in 2010. On the other hand, smartphone shipments are expected to rise about 32 percent to 928 million units as per market-research firm TrendForce. Samsung, Nokia, iPhone, Sony and the likes are beginning to take over the casual photography and the digital camera space.

Related: Connected Camera Begins!

Samsung eating Apple’s Profit pie even as the industry gets hammered

Posted in Device Platforms, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 5, 2013

Canaccord genuity in its Q2, 2013 Smartphone value share reinforces the change in guard in the smartphone segment. Samsung seems to be riding on its multi-product Android portfolio to fork into Apple’s pie.

chart-of-the-day-oem-profits

Apple has 53% of industry profits (as against 71% last year) and Samsung has 50% (was 37% last year). Samsung keeps gaining quarter on quarter and Apple keeps loosing. While Samsung and Apple generated $5.2 billion and $4.6 billion, respectively, in handset profits in the second quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. By comparison, the mobile division of LG Electronics Inc., the No. 3 smartphone maker, had a $54 million operating profit with a 5.3% share in the latest quarter.The duopoly stands in stark contrast to the long list of companies jostling to establish themselves as a formidable player, including Nokia Corp., BlackBerry Ltd., Sony and LG. Even fast-growing Chinese manufacturers such as Lenovo Group Ltd., ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co.—all major brands in the burgeoning Chinese market—have yet to prove that they can deliver consistent profits in smartphones.

Will a combination of iPhone 5S + iPhone 5C (Low end Apple iphone) be able to turn it around for Apple? Samsung currently seems to have awesome momentum and might end of taking the No.1 position in Smartphone profits by Q4, 2013.

What doesnot change is that the rest are truely “laid to rest”. From a consumer perspective, this duopoly can be damaging in terms of choices. Device Makers may start throwing in the towel – What with no profits and cash burns. NEC Japan is quitting business.
HTC has reported a 83% drop in profits.

Surface RT: Writing down Microsoft

Posted in Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on July 16, 2013

Microsoft has been in mobile since Windows CE for PDAs in 1998. Inspite of 15 yrs of presence, the latest reports don’t inspire any much confidence at Microsoft writes down huge losses on its ambitious Surface RT tablets

Microsoft-Surface-RT

1. Microsoft’s Surface tablet generated $853million revenues in 8 month period (Launched late October 2012 to End of Q2, 2013). However, Microsoft has written off $900 on the Surface line – thus re-iterating that the whole premium pricing strategy was to no vain.
a. To put the $853 million in perspective, Surface revenue equaled about 5.5% of the Windows Division’s $16 billion in sales in the last three quarters, and just 3.3% of the $25.8 billion that Apple’s iPad generated in the same period.
2. Microsoft cut the price of Surface RT by as much as 30% in July 2013 and given that the number for the $899 Surface Pro have been poorer, there could be another inventory write down of Surface Pro over the next few quarters
3. Surface RT has also seen a huge attrition of OEMs which starts with HP & Toshiba (Committed to Surface RT- but never launched a device), Samsung (Which cited lack of demand for ditching the platform in January 2013), Acer, Lenovo and Asus (Mid July 2013).
a. There may be a few backers in terms of Qualcomm, Nvidia and Dell – But the fact remains – Windows RT is challenged and OEMs are simply not interested in RT.
b. This could be a spanner in the works of Windows RT 8.1 – It already is out of all momentum.
4. Microsoft has the choice of continuing on the Surface RT Tablets – but it is very highly unlikely that they would be able to turn the platform around. Keeping Surface RT alive would be a game of diminishing returns and would bleed Microsoft.

Microsoft may have deep pockets – but that really doesnot justify the undying faith on Windows RT.

Tablets to oversell Laptops by 2015: IDC

Posted in Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on June 9, 2013

A snapshot of the Tablet category catching up with Portable PCs, by 2015

Tablet vs Laptops

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Eastern Philosophies and the Future of Wearable technology!

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Device Platforms by Manas Ganguly on June 3, 2013

Google Glasses superimposes a layer of information over the field of vision – popping out relevant (ad supported) tidbits of information on the Go. But is that all it is to it?
Whats more to the Apple iWatch apart from all the fancy and possibly a Nike Fuel styled Pedometer and calorie counter?

ying-yang

What we see to Google Glasses and Apple iWatch may be the beginning to something more holistic and internal to the user. Eastern cultures call it Qi/Chi (Chinese), Prana/Chit (Hindu), Lung (Tibetan Buddhism); Western cultures simply call it “Life Force”. Wearable computing in its core could be a powerful complement to this life force – whether it is Pulse/ Systole and Diastole or it is Pupillary response/Miosis and Mydriasis or the greek concept of Kairos (the qualitative aspect of time)

03062013

Reaction to external stimulus is much more sure, subtle in measurement of these body functions and thus can be the platform to much more immersive and persuasive experience and engagement. Apple is ideally positioned on the wrist to read Systolic/ Diastolic pressures and the Google Glass with a few changes can be positioned to read and record pupillary movements (or who knows- the pineal gland?). Samsung is already reading movements of the eye basis which they are powering the scrolling functions in its latest range of devices.

Juxtaposing subtle body reactions to the construct of profile, context, time, location, online habits etc – could be a very powerful business driver at a very basic level. It could open up health, wellness, diagnostics and other medical/ wellness segments.Apple and Google are racing ahead of times – to position themselves at the intersection of the external and internal worlds of users. The focus with wearable devices is to seek and study subtle reactions of the body and build the next generation of applications and businesses which is more internal to the user. The ability to create experiences based on the life force of the consumer is possibly the determinant of the future.

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