Posts Tagged ‘WiFi’

2014: The Year of Digital Renaissance?

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Digi Renaissance firework 2013As fireworks fill the skies tonight and 2013 comes to a close, it seems a good time to reflect on the current state of the telecoms and ICT industries, and what has changed in the last five years. Having just participated in the 2013 ITU Telecom World Conference in Bangkok, this gave me the opportunity to assess whether the Digital Renaissance that we at KeySo Global have being predicting has in fact transpired.

In 2009 the world was reeling from 12 months of global financial turbulence and anxiety levels were high. WiMAX was causing angst for U.S. carriers and the iPhone was forcing the rethinking of how Wi-Fi and cellular could effectively inter-operate. Data congestion on overloaded 3G networks designed for voice was reaching critical levels as operators adjusted to the realities of YouTube video upload and downloads. The European markets and technology suppliers were firmly in control of the industry, with Nokia the dominant handset supplier controlling 38% of the 1.1 billion phones sold that year. Apple, on the other hand, was gaining credibility and achieved a respectable 2%. ICT was the main theme of the conference as cellular held center stage with 67% market penetration, having enabled 4.6 billion people globally to have access to personal communication capability. In 2009 the prime discussion, therefore, was around internet connection and the role that mobile could play here.

graphic oneFast forward to the 2013 conference in Asia and the global economy, having experienced five years of unprecedented instability, is still in a volatile state where virtually every treasured economic rulebook has been proven ineffective in controlling a 24/7 interconnected digital world. This has been facilitated in part due to cellular penetration reaching 96% and 6.8 billon people having access to cellular – 3.5 billion of whom are in the Asia Pacific region. More significantly, the number of people now online has increased from 26% to 39%. The single biggest contributor to this has been mobile broadband access which has grown from below 10% in 2009 to 30% penetration this year. This growth is closely tied to smartphone growth as well as the availability of lower cost data packages.  In 2009 smartphonesgraphic 2 accounted for approximately 10% of handset shipments, whereas in the 3rd quarter of 2013 smartphones totaled 250 million units, over 55% of total phone shipments that quarter. The biggest loser in this dramatic shift in emphasis towards smartphones and operating systems has been Nokia, but others such as Sony Ericsson, Kyocera, Sharp, Rim, HTC and Motorola have been damaged along the way, to greater or lesser degrees, by the shift to an Android world.

In conclusion, we are living in a far more connected world than we were five years ago. However, the extent to which the interconnection of this increasingly complex human digital and physical world is understood is limited and the ripple effects of these technologies on industry structures have only just started to appear. Telecoms and ICT are certainly not immune to these, as we have seen, but within the next five years we will see the boundary industries of automotive, medical, retail, utilities and manufacturing become increasingly subject to the transformative effects of the mobile internet.

Of greater interest will be the unanticipated consequences that will undoubtedly emerge from the mobile internet and Internet of Things blending with big data analytics, and the unavoidable impact this will have on digital life and behaviors. As an increasingly urbanized planet adopts these technologies to facilitate ever smarter cities, the opportunities for ICT to make a difference to societies are colossal – but the question is how to bring the people along with these changes, and instill trust in them that technology will be used for good and that ethical government will prevail? Clearly, the recent Snowden revelations on the NSA and other agencies have given everyone pause for thought.

As we enter 2014, it is clear that the Digital Renaissance is technically well underway but the structural and behavioral implications are only just beginning to emerge and, when they do surface, I suspect that the predominant challenges we face will be societal. In shaping the future of this brave new world we need to engage its citizens, understand their needs and manage the “Faustian bargain” that will be a fine balance between a surveillance state and the right to privacy. None of these challenges are unsurmountable but they are ones that will need careful monitoring, open conversations and perseverance on the part of governments, industry and citizens around the globe.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Connectivity – The Space Between

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

How WiGig, a new standard, could fill the gap

This year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (MWC 2013) provided an opportunity to foresee the future of wireless technology, not just for mobile phones but for all connected devices.

As this picture confirms, the average computer invariably needs to be connected to numerous other devices in order to perform its multiple daily tasks. Increasingly, the converged world is blurring what content and applications can be obtained from what device; films are available on tablets, Internet on the television and video conferencing on PCs. For those of you who embrace these new opportunities there is invariably that moment when you need to swap from one device to another or share content simultaneously between two devices; at this point you’re scrambling to find the right connector, adaptor or cable. In the very near future this situation may be a thing of the past. Connecting the space between devices and enabling easy and rapid sharing of data, video and connectivity became a step closer to reality over the last three months with the unification of the WiGig and Wi-Fi Alliances.

For the past five years, the Wireless Gigabyte Alliance (WiGig) has been developing a new wireless standard that operates at 60 GHz and can deliver data rates up to 7 Gigabits per second – approximately 10 times the speed of the fastest Wi-Fi technology currently available. One of the major proponents behind this technology is Intel which envisions a future of all your devices cleverly synchronizing masses of data, and without effort on your part. High definition video and images will be instantaneously sharable between PCs, televisions, tablets and other consumer electronic devices. Another proponent, Panasonic, has already demonstrated their prototype WiGig-enabled SD card, showing how it will only take one minute to wirelessly transfer a full DVD video from a wireless controller to a display mounted within a car.

The memorandum of understanding between the Wi-Fi Alliance and WiGig Alliance comes shortly after the IEEE has approved the WiGig standard as 802.11ad, thereby encompassing it within the Wi-Fi family. It is hoped that this unification and standardization will help drive the mass adoption that the Alliance has been aiming to achieve by changing the “perspective of end-users that it was two different standards and two different brands” according to Dr. Ali Sadri, President of the WiGig Alliance, when I interviewed him at MWC 2013 in March.

With multiple manufacturers planning to install WiGig technology into devices across a broad spectrum of consumer electronics products, this will not only increase the speed of massive data and video file transfer but also – through improved and efficient protocol adoption layers (PALS) – facilitate enhanced applications for HDTVs and other consumer electronic devices in the future.

Another potential benefit of WiGig could be seen in large venues, such as shopping malls, sports stadiums, hotels or conference facilities, where high speed, ubiquitous coverage for high volumes of users is difficult to provide using current Wi-Fi technology. The 802.11 ad / WiGig standard will allow five access points instead of the single Wi-Fi access point currently in existence, thereby allowing approximately 50 times more capacity. In addition, the range is controlled utilizing sophisticated beam-forming antennas with a footprint of about 10 m so that overlapping footprints can be created every 10 m or so, enabling users to connect and shift seamlessly between access points while maintaining a high speed data link connection.

Needless to say, key players in the semiconductor industry such as Intel, Broadcom and Samsung will be aggressively marketing this technology. They may not have to push too hard because the huge appeal of being able to wirelessly connect devices and seamlessly share ever increasing amounts of content is bound to drive rapid consumer adoption. Finally a solution to all those trailing wires and connections!

Steve Bell, President KeySo Global

Qualcomm at the Birth of the Mobile Generation

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, opened this year’s keynote “Born Mobile” at CES in Las Vegas by pointing out that this was the first time a mobile company has opened the show. Globally, mobile is at the heart and center of everything we do, transforming the way we live and giving rise to the new “Generation M”.  A survey of those people who have grown up “mobile” identified that 84% of them can’t go one day without their devices. Mobile is the largest technology platform in the history of mankind. There are 6.4 billion mobile connections worldwide and 1 million smartphones are added daily which is twice the global daily birth rate.

Qualcomm took the opportunity to share the platform with Steve Ballmer of Microsoft who has been the traditional opening keynote for many years. Ballmer showcased Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset used in the Windows-based Nokia Lumina 900 and HTC8X. Cementing their relationship, Ballmer thanked Jacobs for the opportunity to partner with Qualcomm and to experience being “born mobile”.  I would have to suspect that the famous “Wintel” partnership is in its sunset years… so what will the new partnership be called?

Jacob’s keynote offered insight into the new Snapdragon 800 chipset which will offer faster wireless connection in mobile devices by the second half of this year.  This quad core chip, operating at 2.5 Ghz, has 75% better performance and power efficiency than those of previous generations. These are coupled with enhanced graphics, next generation WiFi 802.11AC and LTE to provide online console gaming graphics capability.  Additionally, the chipset enables the playback and more importantly the capture and sharing of ultra-high definition video. This aspect is probably the most significant element in accelerating the penetration of ultra HD, which most thought would be constrained by the slow adoption of the TV industry. To demonstrate the power of the chip, Jacobs introduced the film producer, Guillermo del Toro, who previewed his upcoming ultra HD film “Pacific Rim”, played back on a Snapdragon device.

We were given a glimpse into many other exciting ways that Qualcomm is partnering to help interconnected devices, including sensors, facilitate the creation of a “digital sixth sense” that can gather information from the cyber world and bring it into the real world. One example given was an app being made available this summer called “Big Bird’s Words”. The Big Bird app from Sesame Street is devised as an early reading tool for children; it works on a device fitted with a camera and uses text recognition to enable children to point to words that Big Bird then repeats.

Overall, it was a high profile and powerful presentation that anchors Qualcomm at the center of the new “Generation M” world. To close, Adam Levine and two others from Maroon 5 played acoustic versions of some of their hits including “Pay Phone” – which Jacobs quipped should be renamed “Mobile Phone”!

Steve Bell, Principal, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Which 3 Digital Technologies became Catalysts for Change?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

So what exactly have we recognized as being the three catalyst technologies or products that emerged in the year 2007? Below is an overview of each of these and highlighted are the main factors that we believe have influenced their evolution and subsequent relevance today.

WiMAX

WiMAX was an early 4G technology that started the move of the U.S. market to wireless broadband; it is often likened to “Wi-Fi on steroids”. The fact that Sprint and Clearwire, a startup that was supported by Google and Intel, could deliver blisteringly fast mobile Internet service forced AT&T and Verizon, the two largest U.S. carriers, to accelerate their deployment of 4G LTE. This development meant that standards needed to be agreed upon and formalized, and that network equipment manufacturers needed to accelerate production in order to provide for these large customers.

Having AT&T and Verizon focus on a single frequency (700 MHz) made it easier for device manufacturers to accelerate their development of 4G Internet products and deliver consumer-ready devices. The fact that some of these device manufacturers had been working on WiMAX devices in cooperation with semiconductor providers meant that they could accelerate products based on the WiMAX chipsets that almost 80% matched LTE.

Subsequently, both Sprint and T-Mobile have also either invested in or announced plans to build a 4G LTE network on top of their existing systems. What this means is that for the first time all four large U.S. carriers are offering mobile Internet services utilizing the same technology as the rest of the world, enabling global interoperability and roaming.

The iPhone

The second catalyst product was the iPhone which has received much acclaim for its elegant design and simple user interface. The real essence of the catalytic change that the iPhone initiated, however, was a shift in the consumer paradigm of a mobile device being used solely for communication to one that enabled interaction. The iPhone allows users to connect easily on-the-go and to share information, content, pictures and video simply and effortlessly. When it was first released, users found the interface to be so effortless that data volumes climbed exponentially and severely disrupted the AT&T network that had not been designed for large data capability! This forced AT&T, as well as other mobile operators, to rethink the entire concept of network architecture to include Wi-Fi as an offload mechanism. It also resulted in AT&T acquiring Wayport, and in the process becoming the single largest operator of Wi-F in the U.S.

Not only did the iPhone change the existing consumer paradigm and network architectures, it also broke the carrier stranglehold on its relationship with the subscriber. The iPhone was and still is provisioned via iTunes, which had previously been the domain of the mobile operator. This relationship with the subscriber, initiated at the time of purchase, was then solidified through the introduction of the app store and ultimately the iCloud. Apple effectively took the existing mobile business model, tore it up and replaced it with a hybrid that established a stronger bond with the consumer based on end-to-end user experience. The impact of the iPhone’s innovative design, end-to-end system, business model, user paradigm and elegant packaging of an everyday technology has had a tsunami-like impact on RIM, Motorola and Nokia, as well as on major mobile operators around the globe.

The Amazon Kindle

The third catalyst product that has been an instrumental agent of change is the Amazon Kindle. This device did for a 500-year-old product concept, the book, what the Walkman or iPod did for music. Best sellers are now cheaper and easier to obtain via the Kindle which provides on-the-go access to the world’s largest library/bookstore. This simple to use, low cost device made the mobile Internet transparent to the user by incorporating the cost of access into the price of the book. Amazon achieved this by creating a blanket connection relationship with AT&T for global access. The fact that the Kindle e-Reader automatically creates a relationship with Amazon means that loyal subscribers are a natural evolution. Proof that this technological revolution is affecting the literary world is evidenced by the number of large bookstores, such as Borders in the U.S., that have closed, and Barnes & Noble swiftly producing their own e-Reader, the Nook.

The iPhone and the e-Reader together have evolved into an instant-on class of device – the tablet – that satisfies the mobile consumer’s need to instantly connect, be entertained and informed. While small enough to remain portable, smartphones and tablets facilitate sharing, learning, creating and interacting using wireless broadband connectivity (3G, 4G and WiMAX) and these in turn have become indispensable parts of our everyday digital lives.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

 

“Mobile Gaming – Everything to Play For”

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

A $60 billion market over the next five years

A brand new and increasingly popular category of business, Mobile Gaming, has taken the market by storm. Three interrelated components of the converged wireless world have given rise to its exponential growth and rapidly increasing popularity:

  • Increased availability of wireless broadband on cellular and Wi-Fi
  • Abundance of reasonably priced smartphones and tablets
  • Easy accessibility to app stores that expand the functionality of mobile devices

 

 

Mobile Market Developments

Mobile gaming is a global phenomenon but because it is leading the world in 4G, LTE and smartphone penetration, the U.S.market is taking off more rapidly, as shown by the following developments:

  • Forecasts indicate that 4.3 billion smartphones and 1.2 billion tablets will be sold globally over the next 5 years. These devices have transformed daily habits, enabling mobile entertainment – and gaming in particular – to become an integral part of everyday life.
  •  ComScore saw gaming usage increase by 77% in 2011 in the U.S. where 31% of mobile users play games on their devices, and 27% in the 5 largest European countries. Gaming is the number one entertainment activity for tablet users in the U.S.

P.J. McNeally, of Digital World Research, concluded: “Gaming is now a ‘need to have’ category, not a ‘nice to have’ category for mobile devices, whether they be tablets or phones.”

Shifting Business Models

The impact of these developments is that the industry’s value chain and the way that games are sold are being forced to change with the adoption of the new “freemium” business model in the mobile environment. The “freemium” model provides the initial game for free but the user is then charged for subsequent in-game purchases. Currently incremental revenue is only generated by about 5 -10% of active game players and this will have to increase if existing games companies are to survive.

The impact of value chain shifts can be seen in the plight of Nintendo where the console market has been severely impacted by the “freemium” model. Consumers find it difficult to justify paying for a stand-alone gaming device, plus games, when they can download these for free on their smartphones or tablets and then play them on their TV’s using HDMI cables.

What does the Future Hold?

For the mobile consumer, the online “word-of-mouth effect” combined with the growing power of social networking will be a significant driver of viral game growth and in-game purchases.

In the mobile gaming category, businesses boundaries will continue to blur as value chains adapt to the converged space of ICT, telecoms and consumer electronics – coined the “Crossover Era” by Gamesbeat. As devices become more sophisticated, games incorporate more advanced features and gamers continue to view mobile entertainment as a “must have”, this market segment will without doubt continue to grow rapidly, evolving into a $60+ billion market over the next five years.

Contact us at info@keysoglobal.com or +1847-478-1633 to obtain a copy of our final report on Mobile Gaming.

Article first published as Mobile Gaming – Everything to Play For on Technorati.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global   www.keysoglobal.com

MWC 2012 Barcelona – What a Difference 20 Years Can Make!

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Article first published as MWC 2012 Barcelona: What a Difference 20 years Can Make! on Technorati.

This coming week is Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain where more than 60,000 mobile industry experts will gather to share the latest and greatest in mobile technology. This event is both a showcase for the industry and also a soapbox for luminaries. It also demonstrates how far the industry has come from the early days of a conference in Cannes, France where technologists, engineers and management from fledgling GSM mobile operators got together to talk about increasing penetration and getting manufacturers to develop low-cost portable handsets. In fact GSM was dubbed “God Send Mobiles”, so desperate was the industry!

What a difference 20 years can make. The first ever text message (SMS) was sent in 1992 and now we send more than 7 trillion a year on a global basis. Ahead of the show, comScore released a report “2012 mobile future in focus” that shows that smartphone penetration in the UK and Spain has achieved over 50% and that more than 48.4 million consumers access social media in Europe utilizing mobile phones; this represents an increase of over 76% since last year. Media and industry analysts are having their inboxes swamped with pre-show press releases about new developments covering everything from blisteringly fast chip sets and infrastructure to offload systems, 5G Wi-Fi and mobile payments, as well as a plethora of new mobile devices. ZTE will be reportedly announcing 8 new devices, prompting gizmodo.com to point out that “less is more” and that launching 8 devices isn’t impressive but actually indecisive!

It’s been quite a journey from the pre-mobile era and yet some things never change. The first ever roaming arrangement was signed in 1992 between Vodafone of the UK and Telecom Finland. In the early days of GSM, the cost of roaming calls made outside of your home country was astronomical. Over time the cost has come down, although not that significantly. Now, with the growth of smartphones, the issue has become the cost of data roaming. I use T-Mobile in the US, for example, which doesn’t offer a comparable data roaming package as, say, AT&T. With AT&T you can buy a 50 megabytes package for $25 while roaming but with T-Mobile those same 50 megabytes will cost you a staggering $750.  I guess I’ll be buying a prepaid SIM while inBarcelona …. or using Wi-Fi!

As key trends and news emerge in Barcelona this week that will be impacting your digital life in the near future, we shall keep you informed.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global