China artificial intelligence (AI) startup SenseTime has signed a strategic investment agreement with Qualcomm.
Huawei continues to retain resilience in a crowded and competitive global economic environment, aiming to become the top global smartphone vendor in five years’ time, according to ABI Research.
Its successive year-on-year rises in smartphone shipments particularly impressive, as Huawei managed to achieve its high ranking without effectively breaking out of its home market. To become a global electronics brand, the company will need to gain a strong foothold in the US and western European markets, but runs the risk of falling victim to the same plights as its larger competitors.
“Ranking by volume as third largest global smartphone vendor, Huawei is attempting to expand its reach by creating its own chipsets and mobile operating system based on Android. It may succeed with chipsets, but many other competitors tried similar OS development tactics in the past to no avail. It will be tough for Huawei to achieve this goal, even with improved global brand strength and volume gains,” said David McQueen, Research Director of ABI Research.
Another S6 has made its debut. It’s not Samsung’s but the ZTE Blade S6 Plus — and the company’s making it available globally on eBay for US$299.99.
The Blade S6 Plus was first showcased at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, alongside the five-inch Blade S6, which was launched in January. Similar to the Blade S6, the Blade S6 Plus is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core chipset and Adreno 405 image processor, and runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop with ZTE’s customisable MiFavor 3.0 user interface. It boasts a larger JDI Super Screen 5.5-inch HD display with In-Cell technology for better and more vibrant image quality, as well a higher-capacity 3000mAh battery.
Unique to the Blade S6 Plus is a function that allows the device to double as an infra-red remote control. Compatible with all major electronic and household appliance brands, the function allows Blade S6 Plus users to control televisions, set-top boxes, air conditioning units, DSLRs, and more. It is simple and easy to use, and saves users the hassle of switching between several different remote controls.
With more 4G LTE models announced this year, shipment is set to grow by 204 million units to 676 million in 2015.
ABI Research estimates that the total number of LTE connected devices shipped worldwide will exceed 1.89 billion units by end 2019, demonstrating the need for infrastructure and spectrum to support the stellar growth in the industry.
“With the proliferation of larger screen smart devices driving up the insatiable appetites for content and faster speeds, ABI Research estimates that there will be 350 commercial LTE networks forecasted by 4Q 2014,” said Cheri Wong, Research Analyst of ABI Research.
Intel, NVIDIA and Qualcomm are leaders in their respective markets but all of them have set their eyes on and foot into the automotive market. Building on their leading edge technologies, these consumer chipmakers have developed solutions that are competing against established automotive chipset suppliers such as Freescale, Renesas, TI, and STMicroelectronics.
The reason is clear as the automotive head-unit processor market is expected to grow from US$680 million in 2013 to US$1.95 billion in 2020, according to ABI Research.
“Automotive head-units are transitioning from proprietary architectures requiring long development cycles and Tier1-led integration efforts towards platform designs. Ford set the tone back in 2007 with its SYNC solution based on CPU hardware from Freescale and the Windows Embedded OS allowing quicker development time frames and independence from the previously dominant Tier 1 suppliers,”said Dominique Bonte, Vice President and Practice Director of ABI Research.
Dr Paul E Jacobs, Chairman and CEO of Qualcomm, has been named the recipient of the 2014 GSMA Chairman’s Award. Established in 1995, the award recognises outstanding personal contribution to the growth and development of mobile communications around the world.
“This award recognises Paul’s long-term contribution, as well as that of Qualcomm, in delivering sustained innovation, ecosystem investment and a commitment to the convergence of technology standards for next-generation interoperability. The mobile industry has been a major beneficiary of his commitment to innovation and leadership, as have the billions of men and women around the world whose lives have been changed by mobile,” said Jon Fredrik, Chairman of GSMA.
Founded in 1985, Qualcomm has become one of the telecommunications industry’s greatest start-up success stories, pioneering some of the most significant innovations and technical developments and through its unique business model, heavily investing in R&D and broadly licensing its intellectual property to more than 250 companies across the industry.
Shipment of smartphones costing under US$200 are expected to grow from 238 million in 2013 to 758 million by 2018, driven by the low penetration of smartphones and large subscriber bases found in BRIC countries, according to ABI Research.
The low hanging fruit for low cost smartphones is to drive smartphone adoption in emerging markets where handset subsidisation and disposable income are scarce.
“Despite the low cost moniker, research has shown that the feature gap between low- and high-end smartphones is decreasing, making low cost smartphones a ‘good enough’ solution for price sensitive consumers in all markets,” said Michael Morgan, Senior Analyst of ABI Research.
Reference design solutions from Qualcomm and Mediatek are permitting regional and Chinese OEMs to deliver dual and quad core smartphone solutions at or below US$200. White label and regional tier II smartphone OEMs are increasingly squeezing device margins to win on price and capture market share from tier I smartphone offerings. Low cost OEMs, such as Alcatel, CoolPad, Huawei, and ZTE are leveraging their increased market share to build brand recognition and move up market, putting pressure on the tier I OEMs to respond.
“We are increasingly seeing low cost smartphones appear as a solution for prepaid operators in developed markets. By 2018, ABI Research believes low cost smartphones will account for 44 percent of all smartphone shipments as the market looks to capture the next billion smartphone users.,” said Jeff Orr, Senior Practice Director at ABI Research.
Air travellers can look forward to better internet communications while on the air. Last month, Hainan Airlines tested the world’s first commercial ground-air FDD-LTE-based broadband network on its flight HU7137 from Beijing to Xi’an.
Internet connectivity was available for 70 minutes of the two-hour flight. During the test, engineers were able to complete a variety of online tasks, including real-time video conferencing, instant messaging, microblogging, email, online gaming, and online payments. The downlink and uplink bandwidths were stable and worked at speeds greater than 12Mbps.
The test was conducted in partnership with ZTE. To adapt to the fast-growing online service needs of domestic airlines in China, ZTE initiated in 2011 R&D for the world’s first 4G civil aviation ground-air broadband communication system. The system is designed to provide wireless broadband data transmission channels at a rate of higher than 30-60Mbps on planes flying at various altitudes. The service, which is based on advanced FDD-LTE 4G network technology, allows passengers to access the Internet via a cabin WLAN.
It balances the portability of a handset and the larger viewing and easier touch-interaction experience of a tablet. The new phone features a 5.7-inch, high definition, 720 x 1280 display, and a powerful Qualcomm 800 processor with quad-core Krait CPUs and 2GB of RAM. Combined with a 13MP rear-facing camera, 1MP front-facing camera and 1080 HD video playback, this gives users a smooth, high quality multimedia experience that is perfect for gaming and video.
The Grand Memo caters to those who are always on-the-go, with voice-response technology which allows users to answer calls safely while driving, and A-GPS and car-mode navigation system for high quality mapping and directions. It comes with a HD version of ZTE’s Mifavor user interface that is specially designed for smartphones, providing a simpler user experience, and ZTE’s Z Cloud service for the security and access-anywhere provided by cloud services. It also includes a 3200mAh battery for super-long standby time.
ZTE has introduced its first dual-mode LTE smartphone, the Grand Era LTE, in Hong Kong as part of the launch of China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK)’s first commercial converged TD-LTE/LTE FDD network.
The TDD/FDD dual-mode ZTE Grand Era LTE smartphone operates on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform. It features a 1.5GHz dual core CPU, 1GB of memory and a multi-touch 4.5-inch 1280×720 Gorilla Glass display providing a high quality user experience on high-speed LTE networks. The device also has a 1780mAh battery and ZTE’s customisable Mifavor User Interface.
In addition, ZTE will showcase its FDD/TDD dual-mode MF93E uFi device and the MF825 data card on the new Hong Kong network. Both devices use Qualcomm’s MDM9215 second-generation LTE chip platform. The size and average power consumption of the MF93E and the MF 825 have been reduced by nearly a third compared to the first generation LTE devices making them smaller and faster.