Recommeded prelimary reading:
– Mobile Internet (Aug’11) [Aug 26, 2011] with a lot of additions to the original July 19, 2010 content on the following subjects:
– LTE and LTE Advanced — HSPA Evolved (parallel to LTE and LTE Advanced) — Heterogeneous networks or HetNets — Femtocells and Picocells — Qualcomm innovations in all that — Ericsson’s LTE Advanced demo — Current roadmaps on evolutions of current 3G+ broadband mobile networks
Updates: – China Mobile reportedly to obtain 4G license in December 2012 [Feb 10, 2012]
The China government reportedly will issue 4G licenses earlier than originally expected in December 2012 and China Mobile may be the first to obtain a license and adopt TD-LTE (Time Division-Long Term Evolution) as a 4G standard with commercial operation to begin in 2014, according to China-based media.
While China Mobile has been actively promoting TD-LTE, the China government is not expected to issue a TD-LTE operating license to China Mobile for the time being, according to industry sources.
China Mobile finished initial TD-LTE trials in seven selected cities in China around the end of 2011 and has proposed a second-round of trials, but the China government has not yet approved the plans, signaling the government’s attitude to slow down promotion of TD-LTE in China, the sources indicated.
This is because 3G mobile communication services are taking off in the China market and therefore the government does not want to issue a TD-LTE operating license out of consideration for China Telecom and China Unicom, the sources said.
End of updates
Mr. Shi Lirong, 46, is an Executive Director and the President of ZTE Corporation since April, 2010. He served as an Executive Vice President of ZTE Corporation from 1999 to March 2010 responsible for managing the Company’s sales and business development operations. Mr. Shi held the post of Vice President at Zhongxingxin Telecommunications Equipment Company, Limited (the “Zhongxingxin”), during 1993 – 1997. Zhongxingxin is controlling shareholder of ZTE. In Feb 2001, he was appointed as Executive Director of ZTE Corporation. Combined with more than 19 years of management skills, Mr. Shi has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the telecommunications industry. Mr. Shi holds 200,283 A shares of ZTE. Mr. Shi holds a Master’s degree in Telecommunication and Electronic System Engineering from Tsinghua University, and a Master’s degree in Engineering, specializing in Telecommunications and Electronic Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). FROM: http://wwwen.zte.com.cn/en/press_center/news/201004/t20100408_181868.html
Hi3G and ZTE Jointly Announce the Availability of World’s First LTE FDD/TDD Dual-mode Commercial Network [ZTE press release, Dec 15, 2011]
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, in collaboration with Swedish carrier Hi3G, has announced that the world’s first commercial LTE FDD/TDD dual-mode network has gone live in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo.
Hi3G is committed to upgrading its network to enhance the subscriber experience with significantly faster radio access speeds and a much more extensive range of data services. Hi3G signed this LTE network contract with ZTE, in March 2011, to cover the whole of Sweden.
Jörgen Askeroth, CTO of Hi3G, commented: “This network fully indicates the practical use of the mature LTE multi-mode convergent solution. It allows us to extend the partnership with ZTE.”
Mr. Wang Shouchen, VP of ZTE said: “With the advent of the NMT in 1981, the people in the Nordic region were the first to benefit from genuine cellular coverage. Thirty years on, they will be the first users to benefit from the services delivered by the world’s first dual-mode 4G network. And they can roam to other LTE networks all over the world. It is not only high speed wireless services that new technology brings, for Hi3G this is also an opportunity to evolve the network.”
This commercial dual-mode network will greatly enhance the network performance of Hi3G and provide better service experience to local users. The network roll out enables Hi3G to significantly reduce its total cost of ownership by adopting a whole new generation of green energy-saving base stations. As Hi3G improves its competitiveness, more and more “affordable and easy advanced services” will be available to Hi3G subscribers.
ZTE Roadshow Germany [Sept 18, 2011]
ZTE, E-Plus and China Mobile Reveal Industry’s First TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna [ZTE press release, Dec 19, 2011]
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, German carrier E-Plus and China Mobile, all members of the Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance (NGMN), have publicly demonstrated the industry’s first TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna which is approximately half the size of traditional TD-LTE solutionson the market.
Mr. Wang Shouchen, VP of ZTE says: “At present, spectral resources are very scarce all over the world. More and more European operators are showing interest in TD-LTE. However, the size of traditional TDD smart antennas can make installation a real challenge and push CAPEX up significantly. The TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna is half the size of traditional TD-LTE antenna and reduces the cost and time taken for installation.”
The TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna was showcased at NGMN’s Multi-Antenna Technology Conference in Dusseldorf, Germany. The demo showed a peak rate of 8Mbps at the cell edge with beam forming technology on 10MHz bandwidth.
The TD-LTE Compact Smart Antenna showcase follows successful field trials between ZTE, E-Plus and China Mobile, in 2011, that consisted of several streams investigating the capabilities of ZTE’s commercial SDR equipment and best use of the spectrum holdings of E-Plus in 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.6 GHz, both TD-LTE and LTE FDD.
Zhu Xiao Dong, CTO of European Marketing at ZTE discusses his thoughts at 2011’s LTE World Summit in Amsterdam (May 17 – 18).
ZTE Wins Informa LTE Award for Best Enabling Technology [ZTE press release, Nov 21, 2011]
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, today announced its ZXSDR BS8920 micro base station won the 2011 Informa LTE Award for Best Enabling Technologyat the LTE North America conference in Dallas, Texas.
The ZXSDR BS8920 was developed based on ZTE’s Uni-RAN platform, and is the world’s first commercial LTE micro base station. The product’s hardware cost is 50 per cent less than traditional distributed base stations, and its auxiliary facility costs are 30 per cent less in comparison. It is compact and lightweight and supports all-standard LTE bands. Its low power consumption helps operators reduce total cost of ownership.
The Informa award solidifies ZTE’s leading position as a provider of commercial LTE products, all-network solutions, and enhanced small cell coverage technology that can be used in airports, shopping centers, subways and other indoor hotspots. Awards at Informa-sponsored LTE North America are considered highly competitive in the telecommunications industry. The selection committee comprises delegates of global leading operators, industry analysts and media.
In first half 2011, ZTE won more LTE commercial-use contracts than it had in all of 2010 through leveraging its leading Uni-RAN technology. Further, the company has built a considerable business presence in Europe, the United States and Japan.
To date, ZTE has secured 28 LTE commercial use contracts and has teamed up with more than 90 operators to deploy LTE test networks worldwide. In Hong Kong, ZTE built the world’s first dual-band LTE commercial network; in Sweden, it built the world’s first large-scale LTE FDD/TDD dual-mode commercial network together with Hutchison 3G.
ZTE Unveils World’s First Commercial LTE Micro Base Station [ZTE press release, July 4, 2011]
ZTE’s new LTE BS8920 Micro Base Station is a technological revolution in hotspot coverage and product footprint
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, has launched the ZXSDR BS8920, the world’s smallest commercially available LTE base station. The BS8920 also has the largest capacity of any LTE micro base station at 150Mbps, with 2X10W transmit power and 2T4R modulation for a large footprint, and offers significantly lower TCO due to reduced hardware, power consumption and deployment costs.
The ZXSDR BS8920 micro base station is targeted at the rapidly growing market for urban and indoor hotspot coverage, and can reduce hardware costs by up to 50 percent of distributed base stations. The design of the BS8920 encompasses key features to reduce power consumption to as low as 100W average, with up to 30 percent lower deployment costs in terms of deployment compared to other distributed base stations.
Ms. Li Jian, General Manager of ZTE’s CDMA and LTE Product Line, said, “ZTE invests heavily in research and development for environmentally friendly, low-power solutions that are versatile for operators. We are pleased to debut the BS8920 which we are already demonstrating to customers. This development will allow both end-users and operators to experience excellent coverage and meet demand with ease.”
The BS8920 base station meets industry requirements for an Omni sector eNodeB product, with less than half of the size and weight of a standard remote radio unit (RRU). It also supports all-standard LTE frequency band spectrums, and AC/DC power supply.
The newly released base-station can be widely applied in various complex environments, such as LTE hotspots, blind spots or indoor/outdoor areas, playing an important role in LTE networks and hybrid networks.
As of April 2011, ZTE has signed 18 LTE commercial contracts with operators from around the world, and has deployed 70 trial networks jointly with its partners.
ZTE releases ‘world’s smallest’ LTE base station [TechEye, July 4, 2011]
According to Gartner analyst Sylvain Fabreit is important for ZTE to look towards competing with the likes of the “more aggressive” Huawei.
“ZTE is gradually getting more of the LTE market as legacy technologies such as GSM shrink, and could be well placed to perform well.”
“Though it is a smaller chunk of business for ZTE, LTE is clearly the next step, and companies know that they have to be in the LTE game, as for example the 3G market slows down growth.”
“All the players in the market are now positioning themselves.”
While Fabre believes that ZTE could be well equipped to capitalise as the technology slowly gains ground, with Gartner forecast estimating it will account for 3.1 percent of all mobile connection by 2015, the mobile firm will have plenty to do to stay ahead of the competition.
“All of the major companies have been making noise about smaller base station over the past year and a half, as the distinction is increasingly blurring with femtocellsas base stations get smaller.” Fabre explains.
“But we can be sure that ZTE rivals have developments in their own labs already.”
At the Mobile Asia Congress 2011 [Nov 16-17, 2011], we interviewed with Richard Ye Lihe, ZTE’s Senior Director of Wireless Product Operation, Product R&D System. Please also visit our twitter and Facebook for more information of ZTE at MACHK. http://www.twitter.com/ZTEPress http://www.facebook.com/ZTECorp
More information on this blog:
– China Mobile repositioning for TD-LTE with full content and application aggregation services, 3G [HSPA level] is to create momentum for that [June 18, 2011] which also includes information about Global TD-LTE Initiative started by China Mobile and other industry heavyweights and now already with 36 member companies
– Good TD-LTE potential for target commercialisation by China Mobile in 2012 [July 13, 2011]: most importantly the TD-LTE trials by China Mobile and details of the offerings from the participant leading infrastructure vendors: Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson (detailed desciption of their strategy + acquisition of divested Nortel assets strategic for Ericsson), Nokia Siemens Networks, and Alcatel-Lucent (with special emphasis on extremely attractive lightRadio and related QorIQ Qonverge SoCs from Freescale quite essential for that)
– China becoming the lead market for mobile Internet in 2012/13 [Dec 1, 2011] which also includes vital information about close TD-LTE cooperation between China Mobile and ClearWire in US, and which will significantly determine the future of TD-LTE not only in North America but elsewhere. Its goal is to “cultivate a robust device ecosystem that supports multi-mode, multi-band devices with minimum component complexity and cost”, and will significantly strengthen the current direction of dual-mode LTE devices. “For Long Term Evolution (LTE) to succeed, it’s ‘absolutely critical” that devices be able to support both the TDD and FDD versions of the next-generation mobile technology, according to GSM Association (GSMA) Director General Anne Bouverot.”
But keep in mind:
ZTE places strong emphasis on the Chinese and Asia/Pacific markets, but is making steady progress toward becoming a bigger international player with some recent international LTE wins.
ZTE experienced continued maintained strong financial performance in 2010. It was the only vendor in this space besides Huawei to achieve double-digit revenue growth, it had the best margins in the group and also had a strong cash-flow generation. This all provide evidence of long-term sustainability.
ZTE has several form factors planned for its eNodeB product, including distributed, compact, femtocell and picocell, as well as unified core.
As a stepping stone to gain mind share and market share in North America, ZTE opened an LTE lab in the U.S. to demonstrate, test and interoperate with CSPs in 2009. It has also been working toward becoming more visible in the Middle East and Africa.
While the company is working toward emerging from China to gain more contracts and a bigger footprint in international markets, it still lacks significant presence and mind share outside its home country. But it may have difficulty competing against stronger players in the market.
ZTE’s activity remains heavily weighted toward legacy technologies such as GSM and CDMA.
From: Magic Quadrant for LTE Network Infrastructure [Gartner, May 26, 2011]
As of May 2011, Huawei has deployed over 100 SingleRAN commercial networks, which are capable of evolving into LTE, and of those that have deployed SingleRAN networks, more than 40 operators have announced the launch or the imminent launch of distinct LTE services. Huawei won the “Significant Progress for a Commercial Launch of LTE by a Vendor” award at the LTE Summit 2011, which recognized Huawei’s endeavors and achievements in the commercial rollout of LTE.
Huawei’s SingleRAN 5-Band 3-Mode 1-Cabinet solution (BTS 3900L), which won the “Best LTE Network Elements” award, leverages a sole cabinet to support up to three technologies across five frequency bands, allowing for the coexistence and interoperability of GSM/UMTS/LTE networks to make true convergence a reality and to minimize costs for operators. This solution has been selected by leading operators worldwide, including Vodafone Germany and TeliaSonera Norway, to replace their outdated legacy base stations while simultaneously initiating their LTE network deployment.
From: Huawei Wins Two Awards at LTE World Summit 2011 [Huawei press release, May 17, 2011]
Since 2010, Huawei continues to rank No. 1 for contributions to LTE standards according to ABI Research. According to the latest Evolution to LTE Report released in September 2011 by GSA (the Global mobile Supplier Association), there are 35 commercial LTE networks launched globally and 18 of them are using Huawei’s SingleRANLTE solution.
From: Huawei Wins Two Awards for Contribution to LTE R&D and Standards [Huawei press release, Nov 17, 2011]
Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) provider, today announced its Small Cell solution recently won the award for “Best new network infrastructure solution” at 4G World 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The win affirms Huawei’s Small Cell solution has become the market leader, and has gained high recognition by the industry in the wireless broadband area.
… Based on a deep analysis of wireless networks, Huawei launched its innovative Small Cell solution which can deploy a precise layered network based on actual traffic distribution, offering seamless coverage in hot and blind spots to improve network capacity. This enables operators to protect network investment and decrease total cost of ownership through easy site acquisition, fast deployment, green design, multi-mode convergence and smooth evolution to LTE-Advanced.
… As of Q3 2011, there are 31 Small Cell commercial networks worldwide, and 14 of them are deployed by Huawei. Huawei ranks No.1 in market share.
From: Huawei’s Small Cell Solution Wins Award for “Best New Network Infrastructure Solution” at 4G World [Huawei press release, Nov 7, 2011]
More information on this blog:
– ICT Top-100 in Mainland China and the #1 Huawei [June 4, 2011]
Important Basic Concepts needed for understanding any further information:
ZTE SDR [ZTE video, Jan 1, 2009]
Software Defined Radio (SDR)
Software Defined Radio (SDR) is a term adopted by the international Software Defined Radio Forum (SDRF) to describe radios that provides software control of a variety of modulation techniques, wide-band or narrow-band operation, communications security functions (such as hopping), and waveform requirements of current and evolving standards over a broad frequency range. This technology uses a generic hardware platform to accommodate different communications standards, frequencies and modulation schemes via software modules. A wide range of radio applications like Bluetooth, WLAN, CDMA, GMS, WCDMA and WiMAX can be implemented using SDR technology.
SDR is a cost-effective and perfect solution for 2G/3G network integration and future HSPA+ and LTE evolvement. Using SDR, hardware resources can be shared and base stations need only a software adjustment to handle a new standard, saving considerable expense.
Excerpt from: SDR Creates Possibility of Smooth Upgrade [ZTE article, March 24, 2008]
Radio Access Network (RAN)
In September 2008, ZTE a global leader in end-to-end telecommunications solutions won the InfoVision award in the New Product Innovation category during the Broadband World Forum (BBWF) Europe 2008 in Brussels, Belgium, for developing and pioneering SDR solution in the global telecom industry (see Figure 1).
SDR is an innovation that seeks to unify the Radio Access Network (RAN), allowing simultaneous multimode operation on the same base station. Conventionally each technology standard has its own radio access network, which means that operators who are changing their networks to new technology standards have to deploy different RANs for each technology platform, as shown in Figure 2.
With SDR mobile operators can use both 2G and 3G networks simultaneously or seamless evolve their networks from 2G to 3G without the need of deploying a separate RAN for each service. By means of simple software configuration, operators can choose which mode or mix of modes amongst GSM, UMTS, WIMAX, CDMA2000 and TD-SCDMA to run in a base station. Figure 3 illustrates the concept of SDR with both GSM and UMTS services unified into a single RAN.
This concept has many practical applications, for example, considering that nearly all GSM operators adopt UMTS as their 3G choice, SDR offers the best solution for this upgrade without any swapping of hardware. Its compatibility with migration to technologies beyond 3G or IMT-Advanced technologies like Long Term Evolution (LTE) again ensures smooth upgrade without any network replanning.
As a state-of-the-art technology platform, SDR brings to the operators the benefit of All IP orientation. Its interfaces support packet based transmission like Fast Ethernet (FE) and Gigabit Ethernet (GE) as well as the legacy Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) like STM-1, E1, and ATM virtual circuits to ensure forward and backward compatibility in transport.
The architecture of base station is also distributed into Base Band Unit (BBU) and Remote Radio Unit (RRU) to ensure extended coverage with enhanced throughput, small size to facilitate easier and flexible roll out of networks and greater cost efficiencies in power consumption and transmission. SDR thus provides the best opportunity ever for operators to wholly evolve their networks smoothly with full investment protection and lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and it also enables deployment of green networks especially in these days of greater environmental concerns.
Together with IP technology SDR will define the world’s truly unified future proof networks. This technology innovation brings immense opportunities to the mobile industry, and like in the 1980s when forward looking operators leapfrogged their pessimistic counterparts through quick adoption of digital systems, SDR technologies will have their advantage too, and those operators who will harvest from its R&D will obviously have an advantage over the rest in the market.
Excerpt from: SDR: Building Future Proof Unified Networks [ZTE article, March 12, 2009]
ZTE first proposed the distributed BTS [Base Transceiver Station] solution in the telecom industry. Unlike the traditional centralized BTS, the distributed BTS physically separates its baseband unit and radio frequency (RF) unit and connects them via the standard baseband/RF interface (e.g., Common Public Radio Interface/Open Base Station Architecture Initiative, or CPRI/OBSAI). As shown in Figure 1, the baseband unit and the RF unit of the traditional BTS are separated into two independent function modules in the distributed BTS: Base Band Unit (BBU) and Remote RF Unit (RRU).
The RRU of distributed BTS integrates three RF units of traditional BTS: Transceiver and Receiver (TRX), Power Amplifier (PA) and RF Front End (RFE). With a protective enclosure that meets the IP55 standard, the RRU can be directly installed in an outdoor environment and in several modes: on a pole, on a wall, on a tower or in an integrated cabinet. Therefore, no equipment room space is required.
Being highly integrated, the BBU supports the same capacity as the baseband unit of traditional BTS but is much smaller. In an indoor environment, it can be installed on a wall or on an existing rack; thus, no extra indoor space is occupied. In an outdoor environment, it can be easily placed into the power supply cabinet or transmission cabinet of the BTS.
The distributed BTS is suitable for various installation scenarios as shown in Figure 2. If the equipment room has space constraints, the BBU can be installed in the equipment room, while the RRU is installed outdoors together with the antenna. In case the indoor installation space is not available, the BBU can be installed in the outdoor accessory cabinet, where the accessory equipment such as power supply, battery and transmission are placed, and the RRU can be directly installed outdoors, either with the antenna or in an integrated BBU & RRU cabinet. This integrated cabinet and the accessory cabinet can be installed on the ground or on top of the building; consequently, no indoor space is required. In the case of indoor coverage, the BBU can be installed in the basement or corridor, while the RRU can be mounted on the wall of the storey to be covered.
To support a smooth evolution in the future, ZTE adopts the Soft Defined Radio (SDR) technology in its distributed BTS, called distributed soft BTS. With this technology, the BTS can be applied in a 4G network by only upgrading the software or replacing some baseband boards. ZTE’s distributed soft BTS has the following attractions:
- Real SDR technology supports hardware of different standards, maximally protecting operators’ investment.
The BBU can support different standards such as CDMA, WCDMA, GSM, WiMAX, UMB and LTE by installing the related software. But the Channel Processing Module (CHM) board has to be replaced for other standards only when special chips are used on the board (at present, only the CDMA system uses special chips, i.e., Application-specific Integrated Circuit, or ASIC). As to the RRU, if the frequency band remains unchanged, it is only necessary to install the related software when supporting a different standard.
- A variety of BBU/RRU products deliver full coverage solutions, meeting operators’ various requirements for network construction.
The RRU products with different power specifications, such as 60 W, 40 W and 5 W, are available, and they can meet the coverage needs in urban dense areas, suburbs and countryside. Moreover, the 200 mW pico RRU can be applied for indoor coverage.
- BBU/RRU products feature high integration, large capacity, small size and light weight, making easy installation and maintenance while reducing operators’ CAPEX.
With the standard 2U height design, the BBU can support a capacity of 36 carrier-sectors for the CDMA2000 1X or EV-DO system. The RRU, which is 16.5 kg in weight and has a dimension of 380 × 330.2 × 152.4 mm (H × W × D), can support a maximum capacity of 6 CDMA2000 1X or EV-DO carriers and a maximum transmit power of 60 W at the cabinet top. Both the BBU and RRU provide the highest integration among the like products in the industry.
Excerpt from: ZTE’s Distributed Soft BTS Solution [ZTE article, March 24, 2008]
[Jan 9, 2009] With many years of experiences in wireless technologies, ZTE launches OneNetwork solution including unified RAN based on SDR technology, unified all-IP core network and unified OMC [Operation & Maintenance Center] platform.
… The unified all-IP core network based on the ATCA architecture separates transmission from services and enables large-capacity transmission for mobile networks. …
[Oct 10, 2009] ZTE Opens LTE Laboratory in North America … This CDMA/LTE dual-mode laboratory is based on the Uni-RAN solution on ZTE unified Software Defined Radio (SDR) platform …
The reason for dropping the OneNetwork brand and starting to use the new Uni-RAN for a subsystem of OneNetwork is quite probably because the OneNetwork trademark had already been registered by an Australian SME company now belonging to a somewhat larger group with ~200 employees: Anittel Group Ltd.
For us this whole affair is just important for the reason that ZTE decided to use a brandname just for its RAN solution and did not try to introduce another name for the whole. This shows that the Uni-RAN solution is indeed a strategic differentiator for ZTE.
The Details of the Approach Taken by ZTE:
Abundant Spectrum Resources
Growth in mobile data traffic has brought new profit to mobile operators across the world. Statistics show that data revenue of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone and other mainstream operators has increased by an average of 30%. Therefore, much attention is now being focused on data and broadband services. Obtaining more spectrum resources and increasing spectrum efficiency has become of great importance.
Spectrum resources for Time Division Duplex (TDD) are abundant. 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz are the most common TD spectrum bands for TD-LTE, but most of these bands are not being used. TDD spectrum resources are available in many countries and available for many operators. Of the 300 operators who have TDD spectrum resources, 66% own 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz bands.
Promising Market Opportunities
TD-LTE is attracting leading operators around the world. Many of the top 500 telecom operators own a chunk of TDD spectrum and are vigorously pushing forward TD-LTE development.
China Mobile owns 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz TDD bands and is leading in the promotion of TD-LTE. After completing the fourth phase of its TD-SCDMA network construction, China Mobile will boast the world’s largest 3G network with 220,000 TD base stations by Q1 2011. The operator will call for bids on the evolution of its TD-SCDMA networks in the first half of 2011. Its commercial TD-LTE network is expected to be deployed in one to two years.
Mainstream European operators Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, and O2 have all acquired TDD spectrum and are actively researching TD-LTE technologies and application models. Deutsche Telekom completed its trial TD-LTE network in the second half of 2010 and has started testing the network.
In June 2010, Qualcomm won India’s 2.3GHz Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum auction for TDD development in four regions of the country. Qualcomm has promised to set up a joint venture to build an LTE network. This demonstrates that Qualcomm has TD-LTE in its strategic plan.
Mobile operators in the U.S. including AT&T, Verizon, and America Mobil have promised to support TD-LTE. Leading operators in Japan and Korea have also played an active role in promoting TD-LTE. Other operators with WiMAX, PHS (1900-1920MHz), and TD-SCDMA will also choose TD-LTE as their migration path.
TDD spectrum is easy to acquire, and there is less competitive pressure in acquiring it. The price of TDD spectrum in each country is much lower than that of FDD spectrum. Because FDD spectrum is very limited and expensive, more and more operators are considering TDD for feature-rich data services and hotspot area coverage.
Using time division technique, TD-LTE allows flexible timeslot allocation in the downlink and uplink. This meets both voice and asymmetric data needs and greatly increases spectrum efficiency. TD-LTE can share the same core network with an FDD system and can support flexible networking. It can serve as an independent network for hotspots and blind area coverage or as a supplement to the FDD system for data services. LD-LTE has promising and widespread applications.
Fast-Growing TD-LTE Industry
Driven by operators, standardization organizations, equipment vendors, and chipset makers around the world, the TD-LTE industry is growing rapidly. Members of the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance include China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone Orange, T-Mobile, AT&T, as well as 29 mobile network and terminal suppliers including Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and ZTE. Together these companies are actively promoting standardization of TD-LTE. So far, 3GPP R9 specifications have been completed, and the standardization progress of TD-LTE has kept pace with that of LTE FDD. Testing of TD-LTE technology and networking organized by the LTE/SAE Trial Initiatives (LSTI) was first conducted by China Mobile and has produced favorable results.
The TD-LTE industry chain has been established and is growing fast. It comprises chipset providers, terminal providers, infrastructure equipment manufacturers, and testing instrument providers.
All chipset providers plan to launch 3G/LTE multimode chipsets in early 2011. The development of LTE chipsets drives the development of terminal products. Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, ZTE, and Shanghai Bell will unveil a number of LTE terminals in 2011. LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode terminals will be the mainstream offerings, and this will further promote the flexible deployment of TD-LTE.
Equipment manufacturers Ericsson, Nokia-Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, ZTE, and Huawei have all developed TD-LTE series equipment that can be applied in different scenarios. These products have been tested in the TD-LTE trial networks of China Mobile and overseas operators. Presently, they support 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz bands and will support 1.9GHz and 2.1GHz bands in the future.
Test instrument manufacturer Anritsu has announced its MT8820C will support TD-LTE radio testing. Rohde & Schwarz and Anite also provide many types of testing and measuring equipment.
As the industry chain matures, commercial TD-LTE is just around the corner.
ZTE Leads the TD-LTE Industry
ZTE provides a Uni-RAN solution based on an innovative SDR [Software Defined Radio] hardware platform. The Remote Radio Unit (RRU) supports 700MHz, DD spectrum, 900MHz, 1800MHz, AWS, 2.1GHz, and 2.6GHz bands. The Base Band Unit (BBU) supports GSM, UMTS, and LTE radio modes, which allows for fast network deployment. The Uni-RAN solution enables smooth network evolution while protecting investment to the greatest possible extent. This helps operators significantly reduce their TCO.
Large-capacity base stations
ZTE’s single BBU supports up to 18 TD-LTE cells, each having a bandwidth of 20MHz. The maximum throughput per cell is 100Mbps in the downlink and 50Mbps in the uplink, and the RRU provides power output of up to 2×20W. The RRU also supports multiple modes for different coverage scenarios. Both IP over E1 and IP over PE/GE are supported. Flexible networking and good scalability helps operators cut their network construction costs.
Compact and eco-friendly design
ZTE’s distributed BBU+RRUenables simple and flexible zero-footprint deployment. The BBU is the smallest in the industry and can be mounted on the wall or embedded in a 19-inch rack to save space. The RRU is small and lightweight. It is naturally cooled, silent, and saves power.
End-to-end full-service solution
ZTE is dedicated to offering TD-LTE products that meet various deployment scenarios. Its end-to-end, customized, full-service solution encompasses services, core networks, radio systems, and terminals.
With fast growth of the industry chain, TD-LTE trial networks have been deployed in China, Japan, India, Russia, Germany, Ireland, and the U.S. As of October 2010, ZTE has signed agreements with ten leading operators to build TD LTE trial networks. ZTE is leading the industry in TD-LTE deployment worldwide.
- China Mobile started TD-LTE tests involving an indoor system, terminal chipset, and large-scale outdoor network at the end of 2008. It plans to initiate TD-LTE trials in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Xiamen in early 2011. A total of 3000 TD-LTE base stations will be deployed, and ZTE will be one of the main vendors for the network deployment.
- ZTE was chosen by Europe’s largest mobile operator to supply TDD equipment for TD-LTE field testing in February 2010. Phase I of testing was completed in July and produced good results. Phase II and III are expected to be completed in the first half of 2011.
- India issued two BWA licenses in August 2010, and ZTE entered into an agreement with major local operators to help them build several TD-LTE trial networks across the country.
- In September 2010, ZTE cooperated with Russia’s largest integrated network operator to deploy a 2.3GHz TD-LTE trial network in Sochi. ZTE demonstrated a peak data rate of 130Mbps and won high praise from Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The abundant spectrum resources, technical advantages, and flexible networking features of TD-LTE may translate into great market opportunities. As the industry chain matures, TD-LTE has promising commercial prospects. ZTE was one of the earliest players in the TD-LTE field and has an industry-leading outlook. With its visionary outlook and years of TDD experience, ZTE is developing excellent TD-LTE concepts and solutions. The company is working together with operators worldwide to create higher value and to seize upon new market opportunities.
Hi3G Is Poised to Lead the LTE TDD/FDD Convergent Era [ZTE use case, May 20, 2011] —ZTE helps Hi3G to build the world’s first LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode commercial network
The world has witnessed the remarkable achievements made by the European telecommunications industry. Up to now, the European operators have won half the seats among global high-end operators. Europe is usually the pioneer in adopting new technologies and businesses.
Hi3G is ranked the fourth in the market share in Sweden and Denmark. At present, its competitors have deployed LTE networks in the Nordic market, which cause great impact on the 3G development of Hi3G. Therefore, it is very imperative for Hi3G to launch LTE.
While manyhigh-endoperators adopt the traditionalFDD mode, Hi3G believes that after FDD and TDD standards converge, TDD will not only help build a network with the same quality as FDD, but also have cost advantages, for example in spectral resource. Therefore, building TDD/FDD LTE dual-mode networks is the best choice for operators. In addition, with only 2 x 10MHz in 2.6GHz band awarded for FDD in both Sweden and Denmark, Hi3G will not be able to provide competitive data throughput in hotspots. Fortunately, the use of TDD/FDD LTE hybrid networking can provide high-rate services and take advantage of the existing spectral resource according to the service type.
In Sep 2010, Hi3G issued tender documents, requiring all vendors to provide an LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode networking solution. In this solution, interoperability between TDD/FDD LTE and Hi3G’s existing UMTS should be implemented. Moreover, the FDD LTE network should provide wide coverage, both TDD and FDD should be applied in the same hotspots, and later, the TDD LTE network should be further expanded in hotspots. Last, the entire convergent network must be completed within three months from equipment delivery to installation and commissioning.
Figure 1 Application Scenario of TDD/FDD Multi-Mode, Multi-Frequency Networking
At the early stage of bidding, Hi3G selected two suppliers to roll out LTE in Sweden and Denmark. As the project proceeded, ZTE finally stood out in the competition by virtue of its advanced LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode solution, multi-mode SDR platform, diversified BS forms, customized transmission solutions, leading multi-mode terminals, powerful delivery and logistics. In March 2011, Hi3G selected ZTE as the exclusive vendor to deploy LTE.
While meeting the requirements for interoperability and load balancing between hi3G’s existing 3G network and LTE network, the TDD LTE/FDD LTE/UMTS multi-mode convergent networking solution provided by ZTE effectively improved system security and stability, and hence ensured the network throughput in hotspots. By sharing the existing resources including BBU, antenna, GPS, transmission, OMC and EPC, the LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode convergent network not only helped Hi3G to reduce site investment and network maintenance cost, but also accelerated the network construct speed.
Figure 2 Topology of LTE TDD/FDD Dual-mode Networking
Specific to the system interference concern caused by co-site of TDD LTE, FDD LTE and UMTS networks, ZTE offered a co-antenna solution, which won high recognition from Hi3G. In this solution, ZTE adopted 2-path broadband antennas to effectively relieve interference of TDD LTE to FDD LTE through antenna isolation and customized combiners.
Figure 3 ZTE’s Co-Antenna Solution (Applied in Sweden)
It is known that hotspots have high requirements for network throughput. Besides, Hi3G has limited site resource and hoped to make use of the existing UMTS network site. Moreover, the winter temperature is very low in Sweden and Denmark. Therefore, very high requirements are put on the base stations in terms of capacity, size, installation flexibility and performance. In response to that, ZTE provided diversified LTE base stationsto completely satisfy the customer’s site requirements with good performance even at the temperature of 40° below 0. In this project, by adopting different combinations of ZTE’s FDD/TDD dual-mode SDR base stations, small-capacity outdoor BBU cabinet, large-scale outdoor cabinet and outdoor distributed base stations, the eNodeB system can be conveniently installed indoors, outdoors, mounted on a tower, under a tower or even installed with no equipment room. As a result, the eNodeB removed the need for extra civil engineering expenditure, decreased the engineering installation difficulty, and hence accelerated network construction for Hi3G.
As a global pioneer in 3G, Hi3G is of course unwilling to lag behind in the field of 4G network operation. For operators, failure to put a network into commercial use on time not only leads to a tremendous loss of revenue, but also runs the risk of lagging behind the competitors. By providing diversified terminals and rapid network construction, ZTE can help Hi3G to achieve fast commercialization of LTE.
On the terminal side, ZTE launched the world’s first Qualcomm chipset based data cards. By supporting 3G, TDD LTE and FDD LTE systems simultaneously, these data cards will help Hi3G to commercialize its LTE network rapidly in terms of business model.
On the engineering delivery side, aimed at “global leader in delivery”, ZTE has set up professional project management processes and teams from site acquisition to civil engineering, equipment installation and equipment room maintenance. Hi3G was very satisfied with ZTE’s standardized project operation and high-quality delivery.
Peder Ramel, CEO at Hi3G, said, “We have chosen ZTE for additional 3G 900/2100 rollout and for LTE mobile broadband networks in Sweden and Denmark because of the possibility to house three different mobile standards in the same physical infrastructure and the low cost of ownership. Furthermore, ZTE advanced LTE dual-mode solutions and quick consignment responses really meet our requirements.”
[The company was founded in 2001 and is based in Stockholm, Sweden. Hi3G Access AB operates as a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. of Hong Kong. The HWL as an international corporation reported turnover of approximately HKD326 billion (USD42 billion) and HKD187 billion (USD24 billion) for the year ended 31 December 2010 and for the six months ended 30 June 2011. HWL is the world’s leading port investor, developer and operator, the world’s leading health and beauty retailer, one of Asia’s largest retailers, and a pioneer of mobile multimedia communications with the launch of third-generation (3G) mobile phones and networks under the “3” brand meaning 3G service.
From wikipedia: In Sweden the mobile network is shared with Telenor, except for cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo, Lund and Karlskrona where they handles their own 3G networks, but this practise is not allowed in Denmark. In the spring 2011 3 started, without Telenor, to build their own 3G Network on the UMTS 900-band which will give a bigger coverage. 3Sweden is the only operator in Sweden that have the licence to build 3G at the UMTS900 band. Today 3 Sweden covers about 98.5% of the swedish population. … 3Sweden is for the fifth year in a row the best operator for Mobile Broadband and has the best 3G-coverage in Sweden.
3 in Sweden is 60% owned by Hutchison Whampoa and 40% by Swedish Investor AB, founded and still controlled by the Wallenberg family and having SEK 181 billion (US$ 26.3 billion at current rate) investment in the end of 2010. 3 in Sweden is not even the core investment of Investor AB for which such names as Atlas Copco (16.7%), SEB (20.8%), ABB (7.3%, AstraZeneca (3.7%), ERicsson (5%), Electrolux (13.6%), Husquarna (15.7%) and Saab (30%) were the core ones.]
E-Plus and ZTE Strengthen Partnership [ZTE press release, Sept 13, 2011]
Senior executives meet in Berlin to confirm expansion of mobile devices portfolio in the German market
ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), a publicly listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, will today meet with senior executives from the E-Plus Group, at the BASE media meeting in Berlin, to confirm the expansion of its mobile devices’ portfolio in the German market.
Since 2010, ZTE and E-Plus, one of the largest operators on the German mobile telecommunications market, have been collaborating on the expansion of E-Plus’ broadband network. Following the successful launch of the ‘BASE Lutea’ smartphone and the ‘BASE Tab’ in the German market, E-Plus will introduce mobile devices designed by ZTEto enable subscribers to take advantage of the data services offered by its advanced mobile data network.
“Our partnership with ZTE has seen an impressive level of commitment from the entire team, helping us to push our services forward and expand our data network,” said Thorsten Dirks, CEO of E-Plus Group. “Due to the rapid implementation of ZTE’s 3G network technology, E-Plus and KPN have been able to offer broadband network services to more than 500,000 subscribers each week. The basic service provision required for each subscriber is constantly evolving in response to the mobile data services offered over the HSPA+ network. By expanding our partnership, E-Plus customers will enjoy further benefits from the advanced devices and network services offered.”
“ZTE continuously strives to provide high quality products and excellent services, and aims to become E-Plus’ most reliable and long-term partner,” said Shi Lirong, President and CEO of ZTE Corporation. “Through our focus on convergence, innovation and green technology, we aim to provide E-Plus and KPN with the most technologically advanced and economically valuable solutions. We are proud and honoured to be chosen as a strategic partner by E-Plus and KPN.”
The BASE media meeting will see over 500 top decision-makers from media, economics, politics as well as personalities from the worlds of sport, art and culture come together to celebrate the successful partnership between the two companies.
About the E-Plus Group
The E-Plus Group is the challenger on the German mobile communications market. Simple services tailored to customer needs and a major reduction in call and data charges can be traced back to the initiative of the third-largest mobile network operator in Germany. Having revolutionised the voice market for larger user groups, the company is now opening the mobile data market to the masses by means of its massive network roll-out and highly attractive low-priced data tariff schemes. As a result of innovative business models, modern structures and strong partnerships, the E-Plus Group was able to significantly strengthen its market position and develop more dynamically and profitably than the market. Since 2005, E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH und Co. KG has developed into a family of brands offering target-group-specific services and is thus breaking new ground in mobile communications in Germany. The flat-rate brand BASE and the mobile discounters simyo and blau are market leaders in their segments, while the original E-Plus brand offers a range of services to its existing customers. The brand AY YILDIZ is aimed at the Turkish community in Germany. Vybemobile is intended to appeal to young music lovers. The partners of the E-Plus Group include many other brands, such as MEDIONmobile (ALDI TALK) and music TV station MTV. More than 21.5 million customers are using the network of the E-Plus Group to make calls and send text messages or data. The Group generates an annual revenue of €3.2 billion (2010) and employs more than 2,650 people (FTE) in Germany.
Partners ZTE and KPN Mobile International announce LTE Trials [ZTE press release, Feb 17, 2011]
ZTE and KPN today announced a joint development programme focussed on the application of LTE technology in Germany and Belgium. KPN Mobile International and ZTE have scheduled a field trial program for 2011 to investigate the capabilities of ZTE’s commercial equipment. The co-operation gives KPN the flexibility to speedily upgrade its network equipment to LTE in the future, if demand is there.
The 2010 spectrum auction in Germany put LTE network technology firmly on the agenda and gave KPN the opportunityto further enhance its competitiveness in the market.
“ZTE is a telecommunications equipment market challenger in Europe, very much in line with E-Plus’ and KPN Group Belgium’s development strategy,” said KPN Mobile International CTO Erik Hoving. “This agreement further strengthens our cooperation in the telecommunications market. It has strategic significance for both KPN and ZTE in Europe, and also in terms of each company’s international market position.”
“We appreciate that KPN selected ZTE as a strategic partner and we are strongly focussed on the long-term partnership between our companies,” said Shi Lirong, President and CEO of ZTE Corporation. “We support KPN with world-class telecom technologies and effective solutions with the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry to build high-speed networks. ZTE’s advanced and future-proof SDR technologyhelps KPN optimise its operation efficiency to meet increasing demands and develop value-added services for their customers.”
In December 2009, ZTE and KPN announced plans to conduct a comprehensive expansion of HSPA networks in Germany and Belgium starting in 2010. The programme was designed to establish a strategic partnership between the two companies for the development of future-proof networks in Belgium and Germany.
Under the agreement, ZTE has started a program to help transform KPN networks in Germany and Belgiumover a three year period using ZTE’s SDR (Software Defined Radio) technology to provide users with HSPA + high-speed data services which enable cost-effective mobile broadband communications.
As a result of the seamless transformation from the existing network to the new one, KPN will be able to offer its customers in Belgium and Germany faster high-speed data services of upto 21.6 Mbps, enabling the operator to offer new mobile broadband services.
The initial agreement between ZTE and KPN involved the provision of access network technology, but has extended to cover end-to-end solutions including core network and wireless access technologies and Android handsets. The packet-based core network equipment deployed in Germany is now in commercial use, and can be easily upgraded to future technologies. More recently ZTE delivered the co-branded Lutea smartphoneto KPN’s E-Plus in Germany and KPN Group Belgium in December 2010.
During the year 2010, ZTE established a new company in Belgium, and opened a new office in Düsseldorf dedicated to the KPN transformation project as well as several new regional offices in Germany. In addition, ZTE also set up a customer Training Center in Germany and a 24/7 help deskto provide local support to KPN. By consistently delivering on its commitments, the company has proved its ability to deliver at the high level expected by European operators. To better support KPN, ZTE has created a diverse team consisting of technical experts from China and Europe.
KPN is the leading telecommunications and ICT service provider in the Netherlands, offering wireline and wireless telephony, internet and TV to consumers and end-to-end telecom and ICT services to business customers. KPN’s subsidiary Getronics operates a global ICT services company with a market leading position in the Benelux, offering end-to-end solutions in infrastructure and network-related IT. Getronics manages 2.2 million workspaces. In Germany and Belgium, KPN pursues a Challenger strategy in its wireless operations and holds number three market positions through E-Plus and BASE. In Spain and France, KPN offers wireless services as an MVNO [mobile virtual network operator] through its own brands and through partner brands. KPN provides wholesale network services to third parties and operates an efficient IP-based infrastructure with global scale in international wholesale through iBasis.
The E-Plus Group, China Mobile and ZTE collaborate for TD-LTE field trial in Germany [partner news on NGMN site, Feb 11, 2011]
The E-Plus Group will launch a TD-LTE field trial in Germany in Q1 2011. The trial is based on 2.6 GHz spectrum that E-Plus acquired in the German spectrum auction. China Mobile, with its leading position and rich experience in the operation and maintenance of TDD networks, will provide technical support to this trial. ZTE will provide base stations developed on the advanced SDR platform and co-siting solution of LTE FDD/TD-LTE, which is a breakthrough in the industry.
The E-Plus Group is the third largest mobile network operator in Germany. The E-Plus Group has been one of the most innovative mobile operators during years. After revolutionizing the mobile voice market for larger user groups E-Plus is now opening the mobile data market for the masses with low-priced data tariff schemes and the roll-out of a HSPA+ network with speeds up to 21.6 Mbps. On top of the high speed mobile data network roll out, E-Plus will now test TD-LTE in the field. The E-Plus Group is one of the founding members of the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance.
The E-Plus Group and ZTE agreed and scheduled a field trial program for 2011 consisting of several streams to investigate the capabilities of ZTE’s commercial SDR equipment and best utilisation of the spectrum holdings of E-Plus in 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.6 GHz, both TD-LTE and LTE FDD.
China Mobile claims the largest number of mobile subscribers in the world. From TD-SCDMA to TD-LTE, China Mobile is devoted to promoting TDD industry being equipped with rich experience in TDD network deployment. Furthermore, China Mobile is pro-active in TDD technology globalization and convergence of TD-LTE and LTE FDD industry by seeking cooperation with overseas operators in Europe, Asia, America and Australia.
With joint effort of the E-Plus Group, China Mobile and ZTE, this trial will not only demonstrate the latest progress of TD-LTE/LTE FDD convergence in standards and industry development, but also lay an excellent ground for the full commercialization of TD-LTE.
ZTE Technologies magazine, Oct 2011 issue [PDF, Sept 9, 2011]:
Special topic “Mobile Network Modernization”
3G LTE – Bringing you closer: Now working seamlessly together
Taking a large step forward can be daunting. This is why we have based our LTE solutions on mature hardware designs for SDR centralized platforms – a field in which we already leading global suppliers – and created systems that allow fro truely seamless upgrades and, above all, super smoth performance. We also customize everything down to the last detail and proviode superior after-sales service so that you can be sure of receiving and replying on a solution that is perfect fit for your unique needs. This way, a huge step doesn’t have to feel quite so big.
Begin at www.zte.com.cn
Why would a South African company choose a Chinese company to teach it how to fight and ascend to the top?
ZTE was the first promoter of SDR technology in the telecommunications industry, and in recent years, it has achieved global success with its Uni-RAN solution based on SDR. Its SDR series base stations can be smoothly evolved from GSM to UMTS and even to LTE. Only software upgrades and minimal hardware changes are necessary, and this is very appealing to operators all over the world. It is especially appealing to operators like Cell C who face the challenges of shrinking capital investment and slow-growing revenue. Since ZTE sold its first SDR base stations in 2008, more than 500,000 units have been deployed worldwide and serve more than 120 operators. These numbers prove that ZTE is the partner of choice.
ZTE’s very substantial global experience and advanced SDR technology are the reasons why the Chinese vendor was chosen to teach Cell C how to fight.
Also, by brokering a deal with the China Development Bank, ZTE has secured funding of more than 2 billion rand and has helped Cell C reduce its considerable debt. Two billion rand is so powerful that Cell C now has enough firepower to clear its path to the top of the South African telecom market.
In 2010, the Cell C network was baptized by the World Cup. A huge number of subscribers joined the Cell C network. Almost everyone in the stadium wanted to send messages to their friends and share the electric atmosphere of live football. The Cell C network had to deal with a huge influx of traffic. Supported by ZTE engineers, the Cell C network performed well and more than passed the test.
ZTE Technologies magazine, Oct 2011 issue [PDF, Sept 9, 2011]
“Success Story”: E-Plus Group Focuses on Future Technologies Made by ZTE [Sept 19, 2011]
ZTE has signed partnership agreement with E-Plus Group and KPN Belgium. Under this agreement, ZTE will help E-Plus expand its mobile network to 4G HSPA+. ZTE is also supporting E-Plus Group to implement the LTE standard.
“The coming years will bring massive changes in the use of mobile devices. Besides voice and SMS, more and more people will make use of the Internet. Mobile browsing with a smartphone has developed dynamically into a mass market.”
Gerhard Lüdtke, access network director at E-Plus Group, believes there is good reason to invest heavily in the development of data networks. “We expect a massive increase in data volume on the networks. To absorb this, we need competent partners who can assist us to expand our networks with mature technology. ZTE is one of those partners.” KPN, the Dutch parent company of E-Plus, has been in contact with ZTE since 2005—when ZTE was its supplier of UMTS data cards.
In December 2009, E-Plus and KPN Belgium agreed to take advantage of ZTE’s HSPA+ technology to extensively expand their data network. “In the largest network expansion initiative in our history, we are making big steps every month on the road to becoming a 4G mobile operator,” said Luedtke. “This will benefit our customers who use the Internet via their mobile phones. User experience is critical; our customers demand smooth and reliable surfing.” In the second step, the new LTE standard will be introduced. Since March 2011, ZTE and E-Plus have been conducting tests on three frequency bands.
“The priority for us is the expansion of the data network with HSPA+. HSPA+ devices are available in sufficient quantities and at good prices. This is not the case with LTE,” said Matthew Geller, procurement manager at E-Plus.
In December 2009, the contract for the expansion of the E-Plus data networks had barely been signed when ZTE began work on the project. First, ZTE installed the entire project infrastructure, setting up a team of technicians and engineers (local and Chinese) as well as a training center. ZTE trainers taught service companies, contractors, and employees working with E-Plus how to deal with the new systems. In mid March 2010, initial tests were carried out on the new system, and the results were successful.
Then there was a flurry of events. At the end of April, ZTE handed the network operator the first node B site ready for use. In June 2010, a customer help desk was set up. The help desk provides 24/7 service and guarantees short response times. That same month, interoperability tests were completed. ZTE equipment was installed on existing stations and had to be compatible with existing material. At the end of June, ZTE, Alcatel Lucent, and E-Plus signed service contracts for maintenance of the networks.
Always Close to the Customer
At the same time, ZTE set up a new project office next to the E-Plus headquarters in Düsseldorf. ZTE established regional offices to coordinate on-site activities and to support E-Plus project managers all over Germany. Regional offices are located in Munich, Berlin, Hanover and Frankfurt. This shows how important the business customer focus is. Short distance from customers means quick response times. In the first half of July, a large number of site installations were completed. In August, the last two radio network controllers of the initial phase were installed and connected to the E-Plus network. In November, ZTE completed testing on the operations support system. Thousands more sites in Germany will be upgraded or swapped with ZTE technology in the future.
ZTE’s engineering has brought several advantages to E-Plus. Data throughput has been significantly improved, and ZTE modules use less energy, generate less heat, and are compact. They can be transported easily so that installation and maintenance are simplified. ZTE also used SDR base stations for network expansion. SDR technology allows multiple wireless standards to be applied to a base station, and the change from HSPA to LTE can be done via software upgrades. This makes the E-Plus system futureproof. With the new network, the cost of logistics is reduced, support is considerable, and new services can be easily created. New revenue opportunities can be exploited in the shortest possible time.
The agreement with E-Plus is not limited to the provision of access technology. It includes the delivery of core network technology and terminals, which provides E-Plus with end-to-end solutions—from the core network via access technology to handsets. In December 2010, E-Plus launched the first ZTE smartphoneunder the name “Base lutea” (ZTE Blade).
When asked whether E-Plus fears becoming too dependent on ZTE, Matthew Geller replied, “Europe is a very attractive destination for Asian companies. If we become disappointed with ZTE or any other Chinese company, this would jeopardize their reputation in Europe. And nobody wants that. Besides, ZTE is totally transparent. We always know who is responsible for what and what the balance sheets say. This promotes confidence.” The German Federal Network Agency, a state regulatory body, sees no problem in the close cooperation between KPN and ZTE.
E-Plus has the next wireless standard in its focus, namely, LTE. Even here, E-Plus has been working closely with ZTE. Since February 2011, E-Plus has been conducting LTE field tests on ZTE technology using three frequency bands. The technology is being prepared for deployment of LTE in the E-Plus data network.
Learning from China Mobile
In Germany, the 2.6 GHz band is being used for TDD-LTE trials for the first time. TDD-LTE has mainly been used commercially in Asia, but E-Plus is pioneering a quasi-Asian standard in Europe. E-Plus is working together with the world’s largest mobile operator, China Mobile, and drawing on their rich experience in operating TDD technology. China Mobile brings expertise in operating and maintaining TDD networks and has supported the tests done by E-Plus.
However, conditions in China differ to those in Germany, particularly in relation to customer behavior and acceptance. TDD-LTE services large populations in China and throughout Asia, and it is the only way to offer fast Internet access in Germany without the using expensive fiber optics. Therefore, the standard has been well received to date. Gerhard Lüdkte of E-Plus is confident that Germany will accept the new technology.
Double Challenger Strategy
“We are a challenger in the German mobile market, and ZTE is also a challenger in their field. The chemistry between the two companies is just right,” said Gerhard Lüdtke. “We had ZTE on our screen since our first contact in Shenzhen in 2005. In Asia, ZTE is already an established supplier of sustainable technology and communication. They have a remarkable track record of projects in various states, not only in China. As for the technology, ZTE can compete with other suppliers and is even superior to them.” Geller added, “We need a strong partner, because we are exposed to fierce competition. ZTE provides us with solutions that simply work well.”
“With our power to innovate, we push E-Plus to the forefront. E-Plus can absolutely rely on us as a partner,” says Li Jun, CEO of ZTE Holland and head of the network expansion project at E-Plus and KPN Belgium. “For us, the network expansion for KPN International is a milestone on the way into the European market.”
ZTE Technologies magazine, Oct 2011 issue [PDF, Sept 9, 2011]
“Solutions”: Uni-RAN – A Perfect Way to Modernize Mobile Networks [Sept 19, 2011]
Demand for Network Modernization
Mobile broadband continues to develop and succeed at a phenomenal pace. The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) confirms that as of May 2011, more than 99.5% of the world’s WCDMA operators have deployed HSPA on their networks, and over 30% of them have evolved to HSPA+. The GSA also anticipates that 81 LTE networks will be in commercial service by the end of 2012 in addition to the existing 20 that have been launched commercially. The rapid growth of mobile broadband has placed high requirements on architecture and management of mobile bearer networks.
GSM/EDGE has by far the largest subscriber base, accounting for more than 88% of global mobile subscribers. Yet most GSM operators are now facing pressure from the growing demand for data services and declining ARPU. Legacy network devices and architecture are barely able to meet the requirements. It is therefore imperative to modernize legacy mobile networks for high profitability and sustainable development.
ZTE’s Uni-RAN Solution
To modernize networks, ZTE has developed an innovative Uni-RAN solution that ensures smooth evolution and easy O&M without affecting existing services.
Uni-RAN adopts a unified SDR platform that supports multiband and multimode radio configurations. The CN and OMM parts of multiple radio systems are converged in Uni-RAN. This simplifies network architecture and makes network O&M easier and more reliable. By updating software and minimizing changes to hardware, Uni-RAN allows for smooth evolution from GSM/EDGE to WCDMA and then to LTE. In network modernization, it is quite important to balance investment in equipment, network O&M, and network profitability. Because it allows for smooth evolution, Uni-RAN can extend the lifecycle of a network for longer time.
ZTE’s SDR base stations come in various types, ranging from indoor macro base stations for dense, high-traffic urban areas to outdoor micro base stations for remote coverage in suburban areas. The advanced BBU+RRU structure is suitable for almost all application scenarios, and installation is also easy and efficient. Compared with legacy indoor macro base stations, the BBU+RRU design saves more than 75% of equipment room. With diverse base stations and flexible networking mode, Uni-RAN helps operators economize on manpower and material resources.
Uni-RAN has performance advantages that help operators reduce OPEX, especially transmission and energy costs. The all-IP platform used for SDR base stations greatly enhances communication efficiency and saves on rental fees for E1 transmission. BBUs and RRUs are specially designed to suit different application scenarios. They are small, silent, energy efficient, and naturally cooled. Uni-RAN adjusts transmitting power of RF units according to real-time traffic load. These adjustments are made using software so that power consumption throughout the network is completely optimized.
Speed Up Network Modernization
By the end of 2010, ZTE had deployed GSM/UMTS networks for 120 operators in more than 100 countries. ZTE’s SDR equipment―the c o r e o f U n i – R A N ― has been recognized by operators worldwide since it was first launched in 2007. ZTE has achieved large-scale breakthroughs in the global high-end telecom market with the SDR base-station platform. Companies in Europe, such as KPN, Telenor, Telefonica, Optimus and H3G, are using SDR base stations deployed by ZTE. In 2010, the total shipment of ZTE’s SDR base stations exceeded 700,000 units.
Driven by an upsurge in mobile network modernization around the world, ZTE has seized the opportunity to focus on network swapping projects. The company has helped 67 operators in 29 countries modernize their networks, swapping more than 200,000 base station sites. In the first half of 2011, 160,000 GSM/UMTS carriers were successfully swapped by ZTE. Through cooperation with leading operators, ZTE has gained rich experience in network swapping and enhanced capabilities in logistic, engineering, and network optimization.
CSL: create a simple network
CSL is the largest mobile operator in Hong Kongwith more than 3 million subscribers. CSL had four original mobile networks: a 900MHz GSM network, two 1800MHz GSM networks, and a 2.1GHz UMTS network. The maximum download rate supported by the UMTS network was only 2.1Mbps, which was insufficient for meeting the requirements of 3G subscribers. Various NMS interfaces were being used to accommodate multiple modes and frequency bands. So CSL had difficulty managing and maintaining individual networks. The complicated network architecture also made it difficult to evolve networks and ensure QoS.
In 2008, CSL chose ZTE as a partner in its network reconstruction. Using Uni-RAN, CSL completely converged its GSM 900/1800M, UMTS 900M, UMTS 2.1G and LTE 1.8G/2.6G networks within two years. Unified network management was also implemented. 2500 base station sites were swapped. The restructured HSPA+ (or Next G) network is capable of downloading data at up to 21Mbps. According to internal research conducted by CSL in 2010, data traffic has increased by more than 65 times since the Next G network was launched in early 2009.
During the network swapover, CSL cut down the total number of base stations from 5050 to 2050, replaced original E1 transmission with FE transmission, and saved 20% transmission resources. CSL reduced network OPEX by 35.7% and greatly improved its profitability.
Ncell: make a miracle on the Top of Mt. Everest
Ncell is a wholly owned subsidiary of TeliaSonera and is the second largest mobile operator in Nepal. Its network covers 42% of mobile subscribers in the country. Ncell aims to capture the largest market share.
Nepal contains part of the Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world. Eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mt. Everest, are located in the country. Deploying base stations on the world’s highest mountain presented big challenges to Ncell.
For fast deployment and smooth evolution, Ncell adopted ZTE’s Uni-RAN solution in its network reconstruction project. Micro base stations using the SDR platform consume less power, have a small footprint, and are easy to install. A one-piece mast and insulated shelter are used for the stations, and this allows the base stations to be installed quickly without the need to move earth or construct foundations. Solar panels are incorporated into the design to ensure that base stations have power supply throughout the year and are environmentally friendly. These features allow each base station to operate at optimal levels with minimal power usage even in temperatures as low as [minus] 30˚C to 40˚C. Overcoming altitude sickness and harsh natural environment, ZTE engineers deployed eight 3G base stations on Mt. Everestone month ahead of schedule.
After 500 base station sites were swapped in the initial phase, Ncell reduced energy consumption by over 45% and saw a rapid rise in their subscriber base and data traffic.
For better brightness, contrast and outdoor visibility In-Plane Switching (IPS) type LCD and AMOLED display panels are typically used. Nokia made a significant enhancement of both.
First in September 14, 2010 with the announcement of its ClearBlack technology “for improved outdoor visibility” with AMOLED displays in the new Nokia C6-01 and E7 smartphones. The AMOLED ClearBlack display variant used a year later in Nokia N9 “beat the Super AMOLED Plus of Samsung Galaxy S II in sunlight, and was almost exactly the same quality indoors” (see the below 3d party review). The later Lumia 800 has the same type of display as well as the earlier Nokia 700.
Next application of ClearBlack technology came in August 24, 2011 with the announcement of Nokia 701 having an IPS type LCD ClearBlack display. It got the “brightest screen on a mobile phone to date” title from its predecessor Nokia E7, moving even more ahead of the Apple iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S II in that regard. And later came two other models with IPS type LCD ClearBlack displays: Nokia 603 and Lumia 710.
So Nokia with it ClearBlack enhancement has now a clear lead in display technologies. Below you can find more details about all that, including a technical explanation of the ClearBlack enhancement approach from Nokia itself. Plenty of evidence is given first by independent third parties testing the current flagships from Nokia against their rivals, then all kind of explanation materials are included from Nokia, and an interview with Nokia developers of ClearBlack as well.
Update: Tablet and Smartphone Displays Under Bright Ambient Lighting Shoot-Out [by DisplayMate]:
– [For comparison the earlier one without Nokia ClearBlack Display technology]
Master Photo Grid for Viewing on High Resolution Displays [Round 1] [March 3, 2012]
- [Tablets] Apple iPad 2 – Amazon Kindle Fire – Motorola Xoom – Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
- [Smartphones] Apple iPhone 4 – HTC Desire – Motorola Droid X – Samsung Galaxy S
- [Tablets] Apple iPad 2 – Amazon Kindle Fire – Motorola Xoom – Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
- [Smartphones] Apple iPhone 4 – HTC Desire – Motorola Droid X – Nokia Lumia 900 – Samsung Galaxy S
The Master Photo Grid below includes Screen Shots from many of the Tablets and Smartphones in our Mobile Display Technology Shoot-Out article series. For more information on how Ambient Lighting affects the displays read the Results Highlights for Tablets or the Results Highlights for Smartphones. The visual results from the Screen Shots agree very well with the Lab measured DisplayMate Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light for Tablets and the Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light for Smartphones.
The Winner: The DisplayMate Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light for the displays ranges from a low of 15 (HTC Desire) to a high of 90 (Nokia Lumia 900). From both the Lab Measurements and the Screen Shot Viewing Tests (below) the top performing device for display viewability under Bright Ambient Lighting is the Nokia Lumia 900. This results from a combination of its high screen Brightness and low screen Reflectance, which Nokia calls ClearBlack technology.
The Samsung Galaxy S and Apple iPhone 4 are tied for second place.
The best Tablets all performed a notch below the Smartphones – the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was the leader, with the iPad 2 in second place. The new iPad (not included below) performs better than the iPad 2 and just behind the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The other Smartphones and Tablets performed well below these top models –
ALL manufacturers need to pay much more attention to their display performance in high Ambient Lighting because that is frequently how they are used. The highly touted and advertised display Contrast Ratio applies only to Absolute Darkness, which makes it pretty much irrelevant for mobile devices. Note that we plan on including the Lumia 900 in one of our upcoming Smartphone Shoot-Outs.
CR HAL is the DisplayMate Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light – which is based on the measured Screen Brightness and Screen Reflectance.
Update: The core products with ClearBlack technology [April 18, 2012]
|TFT with capacitive touch||AMOLED with capacitive touch|
|Nokia C6-01 (November, 2010): 3.2″, 16:9 nHD (640×360 pixels), 16.7 million colours|
|Nokia E7 (February, 2011): 4″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels), 16 million colours|
|Nokia 701 (September, 2011): 3.5″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels) IPS-LCD, 16 million colours; 160° viewing angle, Corning® Gorilla® Glass||Nokia 700 (September, 2011): 3.2″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels), 16 million colours|
|Nokia 603 (November, 2011): 3.5″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels), with IPS technology, 16.7 million colours; 160° viewing angle, 1000 nits brightness||Nokia Lumia 800 (November, 2011): 3.7” WVGA, 800 x 480 pixels, 16 million colours, with pinch zoom, 2.5D curved glass seamlessly integrated to unibody (Windows Phone, manufactured by Compal Electronics)|
|Nokia Lumia 710 (November, 2011): 3.7” WVGA, 800 x 480 pixels, 16 million colours, with pinch zoom (Windows Phone, manufactured by Compal Electronics)||Nokia Lumia 900 (April, 2012): 4.3″ WVGA, 800 x 480 pixels, 16 million colours, with pinch zoom (Windows Phone, manufactured by Compal Electronics)|
|Nokia 808 PureView (May, 2012): 4″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels), 16.7 million colours, Corning® Gorilla® Glass, 2.5 D curved glass|
Update: Clear, black and super bright [Nokia Conversations, Feb 2, 2012]
Being able to answer emails and access entertainment while you’re out and about is one of the greatest revolutions in work and leisure of the last 100 years.
But the whole thing’s scuppered if the sun’s shining right on your screen and reflections mean you can’t see anything. In fact, the problem’s become worse in recent years as we’ve largely switched to full screen, touch-driven displays.
But making the screen brighter and brighter has a big drawback. Big, modern screens use up a lot more power than the 1.5-inch mono display on your old Nokia 3310. There comes a point where you’d be prepared for the screen to be a little dimmer if it meant you could get a couple more hours’ use out of your phone.
So a second strand to improving outdoor usability needed to be devised. One that focused on reducing the reflectiveness of your screen. Anti-reflective coatings were introduced. But they don’t go quite far enough.
That’s why Nokia created ClearBlack display.
ClearBlack display uses a sequence of polarising layers to eliminate reflections.
You have probably tried polarising sunglasses before now and so have a rough idea of how that works. If you look at a window or the surface of some water using polarising glasses, then they become more transparent – which is why they’re especially good for fishermen. The polariser cuts out reflected light.
Polariser layers used in display solutions are bit more sophisticated than in sunglasses. Light rays actually get “processed” many times on its way in and out of your phones´s screen.
Download the larger image from here.
There’s both a linear polariser and retardation layers between the surface of your phone and the display. When light hits your screen, this is what happens:
- It hits the linear polariser, this vertically polarises the light. (Polarising means – roughly – aligning the wave vibration in a particular direction).
- Then it hits the circular polariser retardation layer. This converts the light again, making it right-circularly polarised.
- Then it hits the screen and bounces off it, switching the rotation of the light to leftist.
- It goes back through the retardation layer. When this happens, the light becomes horizontally polarised.
- Finally, it hits the linear polariser, since the light is horizontally polarised at this point it can be blocked entirely by this optical solution.
So why doesn’t the light from your phone’s display get blocked? Because it only goes through the second half of this journey so the light is unpolarised when it hits the final filter and goes through.
PhoneArena examines the 1000 nits display on the Nokia 701 via an improvised outdoor comparison with the Apple iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S II, about which you can read on: Thousand points of light: the brightest mobile display to date on the Nokia 701 compared[Oct 1, 2011]
More information about this new brightness record is in The technical excellence of the new Symbian range from Nokia [Oct 1, 2011] post on this blog.
Nokia ClearBlack http://www.netbooknews.com The promise of sunlight viewable AMOLEDs has been around for a year now, and if you put on a foil to get rid of the glossy display you actually have a decent shot of using it outdoors. Nokia has actually done something very similar with their ClearBlack Display which is an AMOLED display with a polarized filter on top. The polarizer removes undesired reflections which increases visual contrast to provide vibrant colors and blacker blacks. This enables the ClearBlack Display to be usable in brightly lit conditions.
Information about the Lumia 800 phone used in this comparison see in the Nokia Lumia (Windows Phone 7) value proposition [Oct 26, 2011] post on this blog.
The other phone used for comparison in this video is the HTC Mozart with its so called Super LCD by Sony Mobile Display, a technology which is quite close to the IPS LCD technology. HTC is using the same technology on its latest HTC Titan and Radar phones, as well as on a number of other phones (plus a number of additional ones since the specification HTC’s product site typically says nothing about the type of display like in the case of HTC Mozart).
From http://www.ZOMGitsCJ.com/2011/07/15/ye-giant-samsung-galaxy-s-ii-review/ here’s a quick video comparison of the Super AMOLED Plus Display on the Samsung Galaxy S II vs the [AMOLED]Clearblack CBD display on the Nokia E7.
… To sum it up, the Super AMOLED screen on the SGS2 is pretty darn great, with great image quality, good viewing angles, good sunlight legibility and great energy efficiency. It’d be hard to fault the screen on the SGS2, and apart from Nokia’s [AMOLED] CBD screens, nothing else really comes close to it. …
Here the “classic” ClearBlack, Nokia E7 is used for comparison. The “second generation” AMOLED ClearBlack displays of Nokia N9, Lumia 800 or Nokia 700 perform even better:
What we liked:
- The 3.9 Inch AMOLED ClearBlack curved display is gorgeous. I put it right up next to a Galaxy S2 (which I thought was the benchmark in mobile screen tech) and the N9 beat it in sunlight, and was almost exactly the same quality indoors (even better I’d say). Great viewing angles too.
Other information: Nokia N9 UX [?Swipe?] on MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan [June 24 – Oct 27, 2011]
this new brightness record is in The technical excellence of the new Symbian range from Nokia [Oct 1, 2011] post on this blog.
Details from Nokia
Smartphones have grown up in recent years, going from mainly keyboard based phones to now having the entire front being dominated by large touch screens. We’ve also gone from resistive displays that had to be pressed significantly to register a press to capacitive displays that are much more of a joy to use.
However, we can all agree on one thing: not all displays on touch screen phones are created the same. Here in Oregon, when the sun finally shines in the summer, we constantly battle screen glare that takes a good screen makes it unreadable in bright sunlight. Other complaints include poor colors, greyish-colored blacks and scratches taking away from the touch-screen experience.
Enter the advantages of Nokia’s ClearBlack Display. This awesome feature is proudly featured on the Nokia Lumia 710 and 800, along with the recently released Nokia E7 and C6-01, and the Nokia N9. To me, the exciting part is that the Lumia 710 and 800 are the only Windows Phone devices that feature ClearBlack Displays and this feature will be noticed every time you show your phone off to someone – they’ll notice the vibrancy of the display, whether you’re showing it off outside or inside under bright fluorescent lights, ClearBlack Display looks spectacular, every time.
What’s the story behind the magic of the ClearBlack Display?
What ClearBlack Display provides
Why integrate ClearBack display in these devices? Nokia’s engineers looked at display-related issues and wanted to provide a solution that would yield vibrant colors, blacker blacks and high contrast but which wouldn’t compromise battery life significantly. ClearBlack Display is an innovative solution that solves many of the issues that plague touch screen phone users.
Think about the last time you tried to use your phone outside, whether it was to post something on Facebook or navigate to a nearby location. To adequately see the screen, you likely had to tilt or shield the screen to see text or a map. To get around this, phone manufacturers have tried approaches such as increasing the display brightness, which helps, but also increases power consumption, affecting battery life. Mobile phone users have also bought antiglare screen protectors in an effort to cut down on glare.
ClearBlack Display helps solve this issue while preserving image quality and and keeping blacks as dark as possible. Also, ClearBlack Display phones create an amazing color contrastthat makes your apps, videos and images pop off the screen in a stunning manner.ClearBlack ensures that the blacks you see really are just that — black — which in turn enhances the contrast of the display and makes the whole screen much easier to see. Read more: http://conversations.nokia.com/2010/11/04/so-what-is-clearblack-display/
To help explain how the display works, let’s talk about touch screens themselves. The touch screen on your phone is actually a layered pancake of different elements. The facet that makes ClearBlack Display so effective is where one of the layers, called the polarizer, is placed. The polarizer is a circular layer that is effective at removing undesired reflections. Stamping out reflections means higher visual contrast, resulting in vibrant colors and blacker blacks.
In ClearBlack Display phones, the polarizer is placed between the window and the touch sensor. The goal of this layers is to stack the optical performance with an air-gap solution. By putting the polarizer between the touch and display, engineers can block reflection from the captive sensor grid. To envision this, tilt a traditional touch screen phone in direct sunlight…see the grid of tiny dots? That’s the capacitive sensor grid.
Finally, when placing the polarizer in this position, light is diffused and reflection is minimized, resulting in a clearer display where all icons and colors contrast against one another. To see an example of the difference between a ClearBlack Display device, see the image below. On the left, a Nokia C6-01 with the polarizer is in place and on the right, a prototype C6-01 without ClearBlack Displayshows glare and reflection.
ClearBlack Display and you
The next time you’re outdoors, either looking up a map, showing off the photos from a weekend event or otherwise reading text on your phone, having a Nokia phone with ClearBlack Display will be of huge benefit.
You will no longer have to squint and rotate your phone to read text or see an image because of this revolutionary new display technology from Nokia’s display engineers. Also, you won’t have to reach for your charger as often because of the battery friendliness this solution provides.
Nokia displays have never looked better
In the past, phones were largely measured and compared by a few factors: ease of use, signal strength and the quality of the calls. However, over the years, phones have become smarter and do more, and there are now other components on the phone that are starting to be used to measure their quality. Many of us would probably put the display towards the top of the list. The display’s quality, its brightness, the viewing angle, the ability to be read in all lighting conditions, are all important. So it’s no surprise that one of the big talking points for the new devices launched at Nokia World 2010 was a new technology known as ClearBlack display.
ClearBlack display isn’t a completely new type of display technology like AMOLED. It’s actually a method to reduce reflections on the screen and improve visual image quality, especially outdoors. ClearBlack ensures that the blacks you see really are just that – black – which in turn enhances the contrast of the display and makes the whole screen much easier to see. This will be especially useful for apps like Ovi Maps, which are likely to be used outside. Also, sharing pictures or other items on-screen with others will be a lot easier due to the technology that enables excellent viewing angles.
The effect of the ClearBlack display technology is similar to that produced by a pair of polarising sunglasses. If you look at a body of water on a sunny day without a pair of polarising glasses, it’s really hard to see anything below the surface, but with the glasses on, the reflections are eliminated and you can see underneath the surface. In the same way, without ClearBlack display, you see the reflections on the phone’s screen, but with it you see the image on the screen. However, unlike sunglasses, ClearBlack display improves the vividness of the colors: in fact, because the contrast is higher, they’ll seem more vivid.
Another useful feature of this technology is also that the viewing angle of the device’s display is improved, so sharing pictures or other items on-screen will be a lot easier.
Here’s a picture of the Nokia C6-01 with ClearBlack display, alongside an early prototype of the same device without it:
Effectively, with ClearBlack display your device is able to provide a high quality image in any type of situation, indoors, outdoors, low-light and bright-light. ClearBlack display adjusts the brightness automatically to optimum level depending on the conditions you are in.
Another advantage is that by improving the image quality, and reducing the need to turn up the brightness, you also reduce the energy needed to power the display, and hence reduce the battery drain compared to regular technology, and so your mobile device will last longer between charges. Of the new Symbian^3 phones, the Nokia C6-01, and the Nokia E7 both have the very latest ClearBlack display technology.
The forthcoming Nokia E7 is set to be the new communicator. It’s powered by the new Symbian OS, offers three homescreens and a QWERTY keyboard for super-fast typing. All cased within an anodised aluminium shell and real glass display.
There’s a lot packed into this device. For starters there’s the 4 inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with Clear Black Display technology, which moves over to reveal the 4-row QWERTY keyboard. This makes it perfect for business use, and having Mail for Exchange, Quickoffice dynamic premium, F-Secure anti-theft for mobile and Adobe PDF reader preloaded means you’re able to make the Nokia E7 your own little portable office.
With 16GB of built-in storage and USB On-The-Go, you’ll be able to take as many HD videos as you like using the 8-megapixel camera, edit them using the preloaded video-editing software and watch them back later by plugging the Nokia E7 directly into your TV using the HDMI-out on the phone.
The Nokia E7 also comes with all the usual Ovi services, such as free navigation for life with Ovi Maps, Ovi Store for downloading apps or games and Ovi Music for downloading all your favourite bands.
… This is an amazing phone to hold in your hand. The polycarbonate body is all subtle curves topped with a bright AMOLED ClearBlack display [Nokia 700 also uses AMOLED, ClearBlack technology as well as Nokia N9 although in specifications AMOLED is only indicated and only the Australian N9 launch press release mentiones it] with toughened glass stretching to the sides of the phone. …
… With a 3.5-inch ClearBlack display [the same TFT-LCD ClearBlack display with IPS technology as in the Nokia 701 and in the Lumia 710] under toughened glass to make sure your screen is visible even in bright sunlight, the Nokia 603 is versatile under any circumstances. The screen offers nHD resolution (640 x 360 pixels) and 16 million colours. …
You don’t get to make the brightest touchscreen on the planet without being pretty, er, bright. So I pressed for an interview with Peter Nisula, head of the display and touch development team [more precisely: Senior Manager Display & Touch, Windows Phone Product Engineering at Nokia (since June 2011)] and Osku Sahlsten as Nokia 701 Display and Touch Project Manager [more precisely: Managing display development teams in Nokia. Responsibilities in display development, conceptual work and in technology projects.], to find out how Nokia managed to leave the rest of the world’s phones in the shade.
Creating a phone with the worlds brightest screen is great, but why do it?
In honesty, there’s two answers to this question. The first answer is, well, why not? We’ve got the technology to do it. The second answer is that having a screen that’s super-bright means that when used outdoors, it’s even easier to see what’s displayed on the screen if it’s lit really, really well.
The IPS type LCD with ClearBlack technology makes the bright parts of the display bright and the dark bits, especially the black colours, dark. This combination gives a really clear display for the user.
Doesn’t a super-bright display drain the battery of the phone quicker?
There is no significant impact on the battery life. We have performed studies in order to determine how people will use their phones on a daily basis. How long they spend on gaming, listening to music or even the simplest of tasks such as just standing at a bus stop typing a text message. With the information from studies we are able to decide the optimized settings for phone. All these things are considered when we make a phone.
Although the screen of the Nokia 701 is the brightest screen on a smartphone, it’s not always cranked up to the highest level of luminance. As with most Nokia smartphones, there’s a built in ALS (ambient light sensor) that senses the light in the environment and adjusts the screen accordingly. If it’s dark, the phone turns down the screen brightness and the opposite happens if you’re in a really bright place.
How bright is this exactly?
The brightness – or luminance – is measured in what’s called nitsand the Nokia 701 screen has 1000 of them.
1000 nits huh? So, what does that mean? In real-life terms?
Well, think of it this way. 1000 nits is equivalent 3145 lux. Sunlight on an average day ranges from 32,000 to 100,000 lux, TV studios are lit at about 1000 lux and moonlight measures at 1 lux. So, it’s clearly not as bright as daylight but much brighter than moonlight. However it’s three times brighter than a TV studiomaking it very bright.
Oh, and the max brightness of the Nokia 701 is more than double higher than the iPad, if that’s a good example?
Is this really the brightest smartphone screen to date? What do other phones measure up to?
We work with the major display manufacturers in the world and we know competition around, so we know the situation really well. We can bravely say this is the most brightest smartphone screen in the world.
Are there plans to introduce IPS type LCD screens to every Nokia smartphone?
IPS type LCD as a technology is giving certain advantages without doubts, but we need to see what technologies will be introduced to Nokia smartphones in the future. Of course, we’d love to have IPS type LCDs on all future Nokia smartphones. But we don’t know if that’s going to happen. We hope it will.
If you’re still confused about some of the terminology used – and to be honest, it baffles us slightly, too – we’ve written a separate piece that explains all when it comes to nits and lux.
Would you like a smartphone with the worlds brightest screen? Let us know your thoughts, in the comments below.
Image credit: chadmiller
Major updates: Marko Ahtisaari: smartphone evolution is only just beginning [The Guardian, Jan 31, 2012]
“There’s a point of view about design that all innovation in the interaction with the phone has been done,” Ahtisaari says. “Nothing could be further from the truth. The phase we’re in now is like the 1880s in the car industry. Back then, cars had tillers – you would steer them like boats, with a wheel at the back. It took 15 years to settle on the steering wheel at the front controlling the front wheels. And we’re in the middle of that part of the evolution of interaction.”
“Look at iOS. Multiple pages of apps, and folder, with a physical home key. It’s very elegant; it was a great innovation five years ago. But the core interaction hasn’t evolved much. It’s simple but constant. It’s like a house where you know that you can always get to the kitchen from the living room – but you have to go through the front door.”He adds quickly, “OK, so there’s been some changes. Now you can get there if you skip on one leg” – referring to the double tap’ introduced by Apple in iOS 4 for fast switching between apps via a “drawer” at the bottom of the screen. “The other model, of Android and Symbian, is multiple, personalisable home screens with widgets. There’s some fragmentation in button layouts where different devices have them in different ways. The hope is that having personalisable screens is so organic that you end up using it via the home screen.” In the past year we have seen a different way to do it – Live Tiles [as used in Microsoft’s Windows Phone interface] – they’re abstractions of data, a panoramic view of your data. It’s a different approach – ‘glanceability’, such as in the People Hub.” He explains that “our goal in the studio is to design so that people can have their head up again. Touchscreen designs are often immersive; we’ll often see couples in a restaurant pinching and zooming, but not interacting with each other. And there’s a trend of having smaller and smaller targets on screen so you have to get closer and closer. If we can make the interfaces more direct, so you can have your head up again – this is something that, while it would never come up in a focus group, is deeply appreciated by people, because the most important things are happening not only in the vessel of your phone, but also with the people and the environment around you.”
That element of “glance-and-go” is one that has been emphasised by Microsoft, and now Nokia too.
His theme is that we shouldn’t think that iOS or Android (or Symbian) has ended user-interface evolution. The sun’s just coming up on that. “I think there will be more diversity in user interfaces rather than less. In automotive, you need to have some standardisation for safety reasons – you can’t have wheels in some and tillers in others. So you want a standard, or standards.” That doesn’t apply in phones: “Here, they will be more diversity in user interface because you can design more ways to use a phone. Some people would say that the iPhone is the new generic form. My point is more about competitive diversity. What’s really important is that this isn’t styling.” He becomes emphatic. “This aesthetic come from the way that we build the product.”
[More on that: Nokia to enter design pattern competition for 2011 smartphones with MeeGo [Dec 9, 2010]]
– Nokia appoints Marko Ahtisaari to Nokia Leadership Team [Jan 26, 2012]
Nokia today announced that Marko Ahtisaari has been appointed Executive Vice President, Design, and a member of the Nokia Leadership Team, effective February 1, 2012. He reports directly to President and CEO Stephen Elop.
Ahtisaari will continue to lead the Nokia design team, responsible for the industrial design and user experience design of all Nokia products. He has led the team since 2009 during which time Nokia Design has created critically acclaimed products such as the Nokia N9, the Nokia Lumia 800 and the Nokia Lumia 900.
Previously, Ahtisaari was an entrepreneur, as CEO and co-founder of Dopplr, a social network for international travelers, and Head of Brand and Design at Blyk, an advertising-funded mobile network. Prior to this he was Director of Design Strategy at Nokia, and held roles in corporate strategy and venturing. Ahtisaari was also a Fellow of the Faculty and lecturer at the Graduate School of Arts and Science at Columbia University, and a composer and professional musician. He serves on the Board of Directors of Artek and WITNESS.
“One of the key differentiators of Nokia is the elegant and head-turning design of our products,” said Stephen Elop, president and CEO of Nokia. “As we have charted our new course, Marko Ahtisaari has ensured that we elevate the importance of distinctive design, which is evident in the industry’s response to our award-winning Lumia and Asha products. By appointing Marko to the Nokia Leadership Team, we believe his influence will ensure that design leadership becomes part of everything we make and also everything we do.”
End of major updates
A week ago (Dec. 9) Nokia elevated to the company level the design and innovation synergy with Microsoft which is promising to change consumer IT for the years ahead. In fact the change could be far more spectacular than the previous one by Apple in the last decade or so. Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning as design unification throughout Microsoft has been started two years ago. Considering that Windows Phone 7 won the equivalent of an Oscar by the professional designer community just a few months ago (unfortunately a little known fact), and that Nokia got a very high acclaim for its N9 and Lumia 800 industrial designs (both from the professional designers and the consumer audience), such a synergy could indeed deliver spectular results in the future (as Nokia is also going to enter the Windows 8 tablet business). Below you will find all the current information about the best industrial and user experience design practices of both companies.
An unlikely meeting of minds [“Design & Innovation” page of “About Nokia”/”Our Company”, Dec 9, 2011]
When Nokia and Microsoft designed the Nokia Lumia 800, there was no clash of cultures – more a shared vision based on purity and simplicity.
Sometimes pairing two unlikely things produces unexpected results. When Nokia and Microsoft began designing their first phone together, they were surprised to discover they had much in common. From its light form and smooth body to its uncluttered interface, the Nokia Lumia 800 embodies a shared belief in keeping things simple and pushing the boundaries of conventional design.In order of appearance: Axel Meyer, Head of Industrial Design – Nokia (N9 & Lumia 800); Anton Fahlgren, Principal Industrial Designer – Nokia (N9 & Lumia 800); Nicolás Lylyk, Senior Industrial Design Specialist – Nokia (N9 & Lumia 800); Mika Nenonen, Senior Industrial Design Specialist – Nokia (N9 & Lumia 800); Jeff Fong, Principal User Experience Design Lead, Microsoft; Amy Alberts, Senior Design Researcher Lead, Microsoft; Michael Smuga, Studio Manager, Microsoft.
The Metro Design Language, the inspiration (Part 1) [Jeff Fong on Windows Phone Design Day, Summer 2010]
Jeff Fong, the Design lead for Windows Phone kicks-off Windows Phone design day with his overview of Metro.
The Metro Design Language, the inspiration (Part 2) [Jeff Fong on Windows Phone Design Day, Summer 2010]
Original video (for both YouTube ones embedded here) from: http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/Jaime+Rodriguez/Windows-Phone-Design-Days-Metro
If interested in other subjects as well see:
Windows Phone Design Day Recordings [Aug 13, 2010]
An insider’s view on the design principles for the new Nokia Lumia 800 with Anton-Olof Fahlgren, the Principal Industrial Designer in Axel Meyer’s team.
Panel Discussion at Nokia World 2011: http://events.nokia.com/nokiaworld/ titled “Designing smarter phones” with Marko Ahtisaari from Nokia and Albert Shum from Microsoft
See the detailed elaboration of that (with a lot of included text) in a separate post on this blog: Designing smarter phones–Marko Ahtisaari (Nokia) and Albert Shum (Microsoft) [Nov 23, 2011]
Joshua Topolsky and Steve Kaneko discuss the unification of Microsoft design among several product families. WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW AT THE VERY END OF THIS POST WITH A BRIEF ARTICLE FROM THE VERGE AS WELL.
[2:09] … It was about two years ago that I recall an event where we, as some of design directors in charge of different divisions, … we called it LTE, leadership teams, went offsite for a day and a half, and we have actually stepped back for the first time, put up all the work using screenshots, hard copies, not visual shots, and we filled the wall twenty feet long, top and bottom, and tried to parse … let’s call it information work for consumer. Really took a look from server and tools all the way with what’s going on, in some cases what’s happening at MSR with Windows, Xbox at the time, Zune, and start to look for commonality amongst all this. And you know we saw an awful lot of it. We were very disappointed what we were seeing as well. … [2:55]
[a summary of the is from The Verge brief article:] He says that “as designers, we knew way before we actually executed that we did have a mixed message to consumers,” and that the Microsoft brand was fragmented because of an inconsistent design language. Now, he says that Microsoft’s design community feels more confident, and that “we’re not looking over our shoulders as much as we used to.” (Presumably because designers may have been wary of skeptical Microsoft executives.)
Technology Preview: Windows Phone and Kinect for XBox 360 [Broll by Microsoft, Feb 13, 2011]
A technology preview from Microsoft Games Studios showing the connection of Windows Phone 7 and Kinect for XBox 360
Xbox already got a new Metro style user experience this month (BTW Steve Kaneko was User Experience Director of the Entertainment and Devices Division till summer of 2011): The Future of Living Room Entertainment [Broll by Microsoft, Dec 6, 2011]
Footage of the new features and services available in the Dec. 6 update for Xbox 360, including voice recognition, Bing integration, new dashboard interface, TV & movie apps and more.
See the detailed elaboration of that (with a lot of included text) in a separate post on this blog: The future of TV via a new Metro-styled Xbox 360 dashboard plus a plethora of new content partners [Dec 7, 2011]
And finally (also most importantly) the upcoming Windows 8 is showing great design unification as well:
Julie Larson-Green, Corporate Vice President Windows Experience at Microsoft, unveiled a fast and fluid new user interface for the upcoming Windows 8 at the company’s Build conference earlier today in Anaheim. Larson-Green previewed the new “Metro style” UI including the Start screen.
Get the first look at the Metro style communications apps in Windows 8, including Photos, Mail, People, Calendar, and Messaging.
IDSA Unveils Best in Shows at IDEA Ceremony [IDSA press release, Sept 24, 2011]
Bespoke, Boeing and Microsoft Capture Top Honors for Design Excellence
On Sept. 17, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) unveiled the Best in Shows for the 2011 International Design Excellence Awards® (IDEA) at its annual international conference in New Orleans. Bespoke Fairings, Boeing Dreamliner 787 and Windows Phone 7 each claimed a Best in Shownod.
Designed by Scott Summit and Chris Campbell of Bespoke Innovations, Bespoke Fairings is an assembly of up to 30 manufactured pieces that restores symmetry and natural contours to an amputee’s body. The process starts with a 3-D scan of the surviving leg. With input from the amputee, the parts are customized from an assortment of colors, materials and finish options. Once applied to existing prosthetic limbs, the fairing communicates the users’ sense of style and taste, allowing them to connect with the artificial limb in a personal and emotional way.
Designed by The Boeing Co. design team and Teague’s design team, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner features an expansive inner architecture as well as dynamic LED lighting that replicates day-to-night light patterns, dimmable windows 65 percent larger than other airplanes and larger stow bins. It has been one of the most successful commercial airplane launches with more than 800 orders valued at $164 billion.
Designed by Microsoft’s Windows phone design team, the Windows Phone 7 brings a new experience to the smartphone market, one that connects with end users and makes the phone a recognizable brand that users take interest in. The designers sought a better user experience, one that revolves around who the users are rather than what they do.
“While vastly different products, all three of this year’s Best in Show designs excelled in improving the human experience with a technology product,” said IDSA’s CEO Clive Roux. “The Windows 7 Phone improves on the iPhone interface; the Boeing 787 improves the experience of flying through a combination of larger windows, improved cabin pressure stability and careful attention to lighting to ease transitions between time zones. The Bespoke Fairing speaks for itself. It humanizes and adds sensitivity to a prosthetic unlike any I’ve seen before.”
“The three Best in Shows demonstrated that great design begins and ends with a deep understanding of people’s innermost needs and desires with a responsibility to society,” said Smart Design’s CEO Davin Stowell. “When designers are successful at this, it creates tremendous economic value and makes life and the world a better place.”
In addition to winning a Best in Show, Windows Phone 7 took home the People’s Choice Award. The Hydropack Self-Hydrating Drink Pouch received the Curator’s Choice Award, which was given by The Henry Ford.
Windows Phone 7.5 makes it easier to connect and share with the people who matter most. Check out the People Hub, Groups and Threads. With Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter built in to your smartphone, Windows Phone the next release of Windows Phone delivers truly modern communications.
Joe Belfiore shows off Windows Phone Mango [May 23, 2011]
Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone responsible for product definition & design, shows off some of the new features coming to Windows Phone Mango.
The Industrial Designers Society of America Reveals Hottest Designs [IDSA press release, June 30, 2011]:
[the press release text comes after the Windows Phone awards inserted here from elsewhere]
– Gold in the Interactive Product Experience category
The Windows Phone 7 was built around the idea that the end user is king. The design team began by defining and understanding the people who would use this phone. It was convinced that there could be a better user experience for a phone, one that revolves more around who the users arerather than what they do. The Windows Phone 7 lets users quickly get in, get out and back to their lives.
“The innovation here is the fluidity of experience and focus on the data, without using tradition user interface conventions of windows and frames. Data becomes the visual elements and controls. Simple gestures and transitions guide the user deeper into content. A truly elegant and unique experience.” – Isabel Ancona, User Experience Consultant
Credit: Windows Phone Design Team
– Silver in the Research category
One of the core approaches in the development of the Windows Phone 7 was to evaluate the product at all stages of development. From concept to code, the design team measured the efficacy of the designs and users’ emotional response to them. Using a traditional scorecard approach, the results helped generate new designs for future milestones and kept the team grounded around designs that were resonating with users.
Credits: Rive Citron, Donna Flynn, Tracy Lovejoy, Amy Alberts, Steve Herbst, CMG Research of Microsoft
– Bronze in the Design Strategy category
The design goals for the Windows Phone 7 were to bring a radically new experience to the smartphone market, one that connects with end users, and to make the phone a recognizable brand that users are interested in. The designers sought a better user experience, one that revolves around who the users are rather than what they do.
Credits: Jeff Fong, Bill Flora, Jae Pum Park, Jeff Arnold, Greg Melander, Joe Belfiore, Ryan Bickel, Alfred Astort, Kat Holmes, Albert Shum, Mike Guss, Mark Gibson, Lori Kratzer of Microsoft
[here is the press release text]
The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) unveiled the winners of the 2011 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA®) program—a celebration of design excellence in products, sustainability, interaction design, packaging, strategy, research and concepts. This year the competition received a record amount of entries breaking the 2,000 mark since it began 31 years ago. Out of 524 finalists, 27 were honored with the Gold Award, while 68 received the Silver Award and 96 won the Bronze Award.
The top corporate winners were Samsung of South Korea and Microsoft claiming sevenawards and Belkin and GE Healthcare claiming three.
“The IDEA program is considered by many as the ‘Oscars’ of design competitions because the judging process is rigorous and judged by the experts in their field,” said IDSA’s CEO Clive Roux. “This year our Best in Show award reveals another powerful story about the growing link between design and responsibility.”
“The rigor of selecting the best of over 2,000 entries culminated in three days of intense dialogue and debate that was stimulating and rewarding for the 20 expert jurors—we are proud of the work we have chosen to represent the best from our profession,” said IDEA’s Jury Chair Davin Stowell, founder and CEO of Smart Design.
The 2011 IDEA jury, made up of 20 international design experts coming from design consultancies, corporations and universities, spent weeks previewing entries online and two-and-a-half days of face-to-face evaluation and debate at The Henry Ford. Judging criteria focused on eight areas of industrial design excellence: innovation; benefit to the user; benefit to society; benefit to the client; visual appeal and appropriate aesthetics; usability, emotional factors and unmet needs for the design research category; and internal factors, methods, strategic value and implementation for the design strategy category.
The awards were chosen from the following industry and design categories: commercial and industrial products, communication tools, computer equipment, design strategy, entertainment, environments, home living, interactive product experiences, leisure and recreation, medical and scientific products, office and productivity, packaging and graphics, personal accessories, research, service design, student designs and transportation. Entries came from 39 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Botswana, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States.
For detailed descriptions, photos and contact information on this year’s IDEA winners, visit http://www.idsa.org/idea-2011-gallery.
Started in 1980 by IDSA, the International Design Excellence Awards program (IDEA®) fosters business and public understanding about the impact of design excellence on the quality of life and the economy. The IDEA program is considered one of the most preeminent design competitions in the nation with its scope and influence reaching far beyond U.S. boundaries.
Founded in 1965, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is one of the world’s oldest, largest, member-driven societies for product design, industrial design, interaction design, human factors, ergonomics, design research, design management, universal design and related design fields. IDSA produces the renowned International Design Excellence Award® (IDEA) competition annually; hosts the International Design Conference and five regional conferences each year; and publishes Innovation, a quarterly journal on design, and designBytes, a weekly e-newsletter highlighting the latest headlines in the design world. IDSA’s charitable arm, the Design Foundation, supports the dissemination of undergraduate scholarships annually to further industrial design education. The organization has more than 3,000 members in 27 chapters in the U.S. and internationally. For more information, visit http://www.idsa.org.
Note about the other 4 Microsoft IDEA 2011 awards: Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse got the Gold in the Computer Equipment category, Technology Heirlooms got the Silver in the Research category as well, and although no longer with Microsoft, the design work around KIN was recognized as well: KIN Packaging and Quick Start Guide Graphics got the Silver in the Packaging category and KIN One the Bronze in the Communication category.
Nokia N9: the designer’s story (interview with the Nokia N9′s lead designer, Anton Fahlgren) [Conversations by Nokia, June 22, 2011]
I love sitting down with Nokia’s designers. There’s not one square millimetre of each phone that doesn’t get refined and revised a hundred times. They always have a mind-blowing story to tell about each aspect of the design. It’s never, “We chose blue cause that would be cool”; it’s always like, “We chose cyan, not blue, because the design is pure, so colours need to be pure, and…” at which point, my head explodes. I sat down with the Nokia N9′s lead designer, Anton Fahlgren, for a chat about his epic two-year project…
How did the Nokia N9 begin?
I headed up a team in Copenhagen during the summer of 2009, and that’s where it began. The brief was to evolve the story from the previous Nokia Nseries/Eseries devices, and define it moving forward. We chose to work with an Nseries product as it was interesting times at Nokia – things were bumpy in the high-end market. Extreme numbers on a spec sheet was not the way to win. We knew we needed innovation at every level.
I’ve had the option to do this before, but those occasions didn’t feel so very exciting: here we had a blank canvas. I wanted to define what high-end means today and take a more software-driven approach, and show people it’s not just the hardware that makes a great phone: it’s the UI and platform and how it all works together.
Did you know you’d be creating for something other than Symbian?
The MeeGo stuff had started bubbling, but we hadn’t seen it. We tried to simplify and distil the existing story, because there was a lot of good in the work that was done. That was the starting point – no compromises. We tried different styles; we did a range of devices like slide-and-tilt; we did a couple different sizes, but they were all based on the same design family. But the one that made it to the market was the Nokia N9.
What makes the Nokia N9 unique?
Above all, it’s the continuity that you feel from the shape of the glass continuing to the side profile. It just feels right. The basic concept is that seamless continuity of the form, and I think it was something we refined with the UI. It’s just something nice about interacting with a device that has a gentle curvature. Once you have something that’s more continuous in your hand, it’s just more pleasant to interact with it, all the way to the edges. Try to swipe stuff on other phones, and you’ll soon see that the edges will bother you.
When you see it in three dimensions, there’s not a single straight surface on the product. It’s actually really difficult to model in CAD. It’s almost like a pillow. In concept, a pillow is a simple form. It’s not hard to understand. But if you have to build those surfaces on a computer, you’ll realize how complicated they are. So the concept is simple, but as a piece of geometry, it’s quite elaborate.
No buttons! Just swipe!
Once you’ve got a flavour of life without buttons, it’s hard to go back. I find myself with other devices trying to swipe, but I can’t. Phones with keys feel old now, in some respects.
What’s so cool about a uni-body design?
No designer likes split lines. Split lines mean imperfection, parts and colours that may not match perfectly. It feels bad. It’s noise. You don’t want that. At the same time, most designers like metals. The Nokia N9 has many antennas, and that meant we knew we could never do a metal device. If you use plastic, the antennas would work better. But that leads to other challenges. Consumers may perceive plastic as of lower value than metal. But plastic is transparent to radio waves, metal is not.
The one piece polycarbonate plastic allows for really great antennas but it also feels expensive in the hand. You need great performance from your antennas, of course, for fast download speeds and quick connections with satellites. So it’s all about a good user experience from that point of view. The challenge was that when creating something that feels like high-end quality design with plastic, the material alone won’t carry that story.
It’s great to see another smartphone with colour, not just a “black rectangle”.
We started off looking at a plastic bar without paint, it gives us a chance to almost think in any colour we would like – eventually, it came back to essentially the basic colours. Cyan, magenta, black.
Plastic is all about offering colours. So we really wanted colours where people could express themselves. Brown and grey is almost an excuse for a colour with plastic. If you’re going to offer a colour, offer a real colour.
Last question, how would you like consumers to feel when they first pick up a Nokia N9?
That’s a good question. What’s important for us is that if this becomes a hardware story, we’ve failed. It needs to be in context with the UI. I hope the first point of delight will be about the interface, the button-less navigation. I hope it’s not only about the hardware design. The idea was to create a canvas for the UI and the user to shine. When you watch TV, you don’t want a frame, you just want the content.
Here’s Nokia’s Marko Ahtisaari, SVP Design and User Experience, announcing the Nokia N9 and talking about the design.
In this video, Marko Ahtisaari, Nokia’s SVP of Design (responsible for user experience and industrial design), announces Nokia N9 http://nokia.ly/iGrtvJ. It only takes a swipe to get to what you want with the Nokia N9, and it all floats beautifully on the large, curved display. Stay in touch with people, news and events. And browse the web. Quickly. Get around with free maps and navigation. And take great pictures with the 8MP camera. The Nokia N9 makes it all smooth, effortless and gorgeously stylish. Learn more about the new Nokia N9, visit: http://nokia.ly/jUnOCP Nokia Connection 2011 is an annual event held in conjunction with CommunicAsia 2011. The event is an exciting platform for Nokia to showcase the latest and newest devices and services to customers, operators, media and analysts from the region: http://bit.ly/NokiaCnxn
Axel Meyer is the Head of Industrial Design at Nokia and tells us in this video why he loves the N9.
Inside design – The Nokia N9 [Nokia N-Series post, July 7, 2011] it is not available at the Nokia Connects anymore (but you could see a copy on Dion Guillaume’s blog started April 15, 2011 or on the Symbian Freak)
The Nokia N9 is the world’s hottest new smartphone. And so, to find out where this beautiful creation came from, we caught up with Axel Meyer – Head of Industrial Design at Nokia. Axel has the enviable task of managing one of the world’s leading design teams – Anton Fahlgren, Nicolás Lylyk, Mika Nenonen and Tiina Aarras (Colours & Materials) – on the daily task of producing the ultimate smartphone.
Hi Axel. When setting out to design the Nokia N9 what did the team have in mind?
We really wanted to design a product that would be more natural when people communicated, simplifying the way they touch and navigate
through the phone. But designing to make things simple can be and is complicated.
We started by designing inside-out. The inside of the phone is like the architecture of a building – it’s the stability and core. For example, decisions have to be made about the number of antennae used, where each individual component sits and how the body fits seamlessly around them.
For us, Nokia N9 had to be the balance of making something that not only looked beautiful, but was executed perfectly at every stage.
There’s been a lot of attention given to the unibody design of Nokia N9. Can you give us more insight into the inspiration for this approach?
Sure… The magic of a material like plastic is that it’s extremely connectivity-friendly, so we started to explore the possibilities of that. We focused on engineering this material in an unbelievable way.
The polycarbonate body of the N9 is injection-moulded, but all of the openings are machined. This allows the curved-glass screen to sit perfectly
flush in the body. There is no edge. And that gives the seamless swipe interaction we wanted to achieve. It needed to be an unobtrusive
experience without buttons or complicated gestures.
And the beauty of the product is clearly a chief reason for this design too?
Absolutely. My team found a way of evolving what had gone before into developing something pure. Nokia N9 is a design that is fluid and organic. We wanted to make it look like a pillow – soft and inviting. You want to hold it. It’s natural for it to sit in your palm and for you to swipe.
And we didn’t want to follow trends in design either. We wanted to make something that could be timeless by not relying on a button for this or
an opening for that. And I think we’ve achieved it – its purity will be its longevity.
Nokia N9 will be launched in 3 cool colours. What inspired those choices?
Colour has always been important to the Nokia brand. Black, Cyan and Magenta were chosen as colours that are already familiar to people in their
everyday lives. They are the colours from your printer and other places in your world.
And we wanted colours that would last. We coloured the raw material so it’s inherent to the plastic. This way, if it scratches, it’s still the same colour. Again, this adds to the purity at the heart of the N9’s design.
Swipe is such a natural gesture – do you think it can be improved upon and will it set the bar for smartphone interaction?
Definitely to both! Swipe is a natural movement, but we always believe we can go better. There are things we can always try. Our technologists and
developers are continually innovating and that influences our future designs. We have to find new ways of bringing them together, so I definitely think we can improve upon Nokia N9.
And swipe is just the beginning of finding a new way to interact. It will inform what we see in other models and designs going forward, but will no
doubt improve further. Think about it like this – we are a baby that has just learnt to crawl, and we’ve still got to learn to walk before we can run.
Getting back to basics can be the best way to move forwards.
I can’t lie – my favourite is the seamless glass and body design. It feels so smooth to the touch, and makes everything else work. I also love the
Multitasking screen where you can see your open apps and windows. For me, these are like memories that trigger the future… you’re moving forwards even when you swipe ‘backawards’. And the camera is amazing. We haven’t given it the biggest megapixels, but we have made the
world’s best smartphone camera sensor. With wide-angled Carl Zeiss optics, the picture quality is superb.
Finally, if you had to choose one Nokia N9, which colour would you choose?
Ahhh, that’s tough question. It was cyan, but now it’s magenta. I love this colour. But let’s see next month, it will probably change again!
Thanks to Axel and the Industrial Design team for their time, and for creating such a beauty in the Nokia N9. If it’s anything to go by, we’d say the future is looking very exciting.
His biography on press.nokia.com [Feb 25, 2011]
Name: Axel Meyer
Title: Head of Design for Explore, Nseries
Nokia Design Studio: Espoo, Finland
What attracted you to design?
I always wanted to be an archaeologist and investigate things from the past civilizations. When I was young, my father-in-law was designing a car and then realized that by designing products I could be the archaeologist of the future. I thought this was really beautiful.
What is your background?
I graduated as a product designer from Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, then started a small studio studio with two friends. In those times we didn’t have much of a design culture in Argentina and we were doing it all, so I got experience in designing packaging, products, user experience, visual communications and so on. I started very early with a holistic approach to understanding products. In innovation design you need a multidisciplinary approach so you can make one plus one equal to three and create that “wow” unique factor.
How much of your design aesthetic stems from your own culture or experiences? How does your background come through in your design ideas?
My experiences have made me a broad thinking person and given me the drive to push forward my design vision and strategy to the next phase where we can implement and execute the solution. And along the way I work to have communications so that the story reaches the people. But before all of that, I think that we as designers need to explore and observe constantly. As I design, it cannot be based only on my ideas or experiences. I am always scrutinizing everyday situations, and at Nokia we have many people and partners around the globe feeding us with lots of input and inspiration so that we can translate everyday needs and desires and ideas into practical and beautiful solutions.
What is it like to work in such a dynamic industry and what are the challenges you currently face as a designer?
I think it is super nice and entertaining to work in such a dynamic industry. The pace can be incredibly hectic, but it is so interesting to design for humanity which is constantly evolving. We are always looking for new ways to simplify design so that it is understandable to all and at the same time delivering solutions that make people feel superhuman. It is almost like being an alchemist. We are constantly pushing our own boundaries. The challenge is that you are designing for people, but you never know how well you are doing until you see people living a better and more interesting life, having a more natural dialog with their communities.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I look for inspiration everywhere, but specially in the everyday little moments of life. How do we wake up? How do we go to sleep? The whole idea that the moment you leave the home, you can have your whole life with you and be connected to your friends and family no matter wherever you are. You almost wonder if at some point in the near future we will need physical addresses anymore.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
For me design is more about an approach rather than an aesthetic. I see design as how can I solve a problem and deliver to people something that is relevant to their life; and if it can simplify things. I am trying to make not so much the object, but the experience. And I think that from an aesthetic perceptive simplicity is the way to amplify that. To overload it is to lose the focus. I also think of the design as a whole. But most of all it definitely has a social aspect because at the end of the day it is all about people, and we design for people.
How would you define good design?
Good design is relevant and solves a moment in peoples’ lives. Good design brings something new to people so they can amplify their experiences, and it is something that brings them happiness. In some cases, it is practical and in others it is about the emotional experience. But I think that truly good design elevates the emotional rather than the rational side of things. I also think that good design should be simple and easy, and fast and nice, and ubiquitous. At the end of the day, good design should be judged by the people for whom it is relevant. For me, good design mostly means that moves peolple emotionally or it contributes to a real improvement in their lives.
What do you think people look for in design of mobile devices today?
I think that people are looking for a new platform on which they can start to communicate with one another within their communities. This is why I always try to design new, human ways for communicating and sharing. I think that the solutions we offer should make people feel superhuman. There should be some familiarity in those interactions, but it should be faster and nicer and at the same time more natural.
How is the internet changing or influencing what and how you design?
The internet is a platform for how we communicate. We don’t think about it anymore when we are on the web, but we are constantly sharing and connected. Also with the internet, the way you manage your spaces is different. You can define those areas where you want to be seen and heard, or more private. We live connected to the web. Technology is an enabler and brings benefits to people to meet social needs.
Favorite Nokia design and why?
I always like the best the Nokia design coming next. As designers in Nokia, we are non-conformist. We always think we can innovate in the future.
Favorite Nokia icon and why?
I like all of the Nokia icons because you can overlay the different experiences. I like to access media through my Contacts. And I like Sports Tracker because you can use it to compare and share with your friends in a really fun way.
Which device do you use today and why?
I use the Nokia N97 because it is so adaptable and transforms to different situations. I can use it with only one hand, with two hands, or rest it on my stomach while I watch a movie. It adapts to your context and not visa versa.
Steve Kaneko on Microsoft Design – Full interview [Dec 15, 2011]
Joshua Topolsky talks with Microsoft Design Director Steve Kaneko about Microsoft Design, past, present, and future.
Microsoft’s design lead Steve Kaneko on unification and Metro: ‘We’re not looking over our shoulders’ [The Verge, Dec 16, 2011]
While Windows 8’s Metro overhaul goes a long way towards completely reinventing the OS, in some ways it hasn’t gone far enough — there are still places where the classic Windows interface resurfaces. So why hasn’t Microsoft fully adopted Metro yet? Microsoft design director Steve Kaneko sat down with our own Joshua Topolsky for an interview (see the full video at the bottom), and he says that while the company is committed to Metro’s design principles, there are challenges that have made the transition difficult — he says that the large Metro style interface, designed for touch interaction, doesn’t scale in an obvious way to software like Office that has a lot of dense information. While Metro attempts to eliminate what Microsoft calls “chrome” (superfluous design elements), he says that chrome has traditionally served a functional purpose in crowded applications, and the design team now has to express grouping and visual hierarchy with composition, layout, font scaling, and contrast ratios.
Kaneko also shares that Microsoft is becoming a more design-oriented company, and that it’s working consciously toward unifying the look and feel of its products — something that some Windows users have pined for over the years. He says that “as designers, we knew way before we actually executed that we did have a mixed message to consumers,” and that the Microsoft brand was fragmented because of an inconsistent design language. Now, he says that Microsoft’s design community feels more confident, and that “we’re not looking over our shoulders as much as we used to.” (Presumably because designers may have been wary of skeptical Microsoft executives.)
Steve Ballmer hinted at the possibility of a Metro-style version of the next Office suite back in September, but we’re still not sure when, if, and to what extent Microsoft’s legacy software will be upgraded with the new UI. And while Kineko says the company is certainly thinking hard about how to implement Metro, just having the vision is not enough — by his own admission, it’s all about execution now.
Steve Kaneko, Partner Director of Design, Office at Microsoft Corporation [Linked In, excerpted on Dec 17, 2011]
Partner Director of Design, Office Microsoft Corporation
Public Company; 10,001+ employees; MSFT; Computer Software industry
May 2011 – Present (8 months)
User Experience Director Microsoft – Entertainment and Devices Division
Public Company; 10,001+ employees; MSFT; Computer Software industry
February 2006 – June 2011 (5 years 5 months)
Design Director Microsoft/Windows Hardware Innovation
Public Company; 10,001+ employees; MSFT; Computer Software industry
February 2003 – February 2006 (3 years 1 month)
Design Director Microsoft Windows Division
Public Company; 10,001+ employees; MSFT; Computer Software industry
June 2000 – September 2003 (3 years 4 months)
Windows Design Director orchestrating the integration between Windows product design and Windows Brand architecture.
Design Manager Microsoft Hardware Group
Public Company; 10,001+ employees; MSFT; Computer Software industry
September 1991 – June 2000 (8 years 10 months)
Design manager of Industrial Design, Interface, User Assistance, and Usability for Microsoft’s hardware peripherals devision. Product lines cinsists of computer mice, keyboards, gaming devices, speakers, phones, and misc.
Senior Industrial Designer Fluke Corporation
Privately Held; 501-1000 employees; DHR; Computer Networking industry
May 1988 – September 1991 (3 years 5 months)
Lead Industrial Designer on low cost handheld digital multimeter line of products. Developed and designed company brand identity system.
Staff industrial designer in product design consultancy. Products ranging from recreational equipment, electronic test and measurement, consumer, and furntiture products.
University of Washington BFA, Industrial Design
1980 – 1985
Finally a single organizational structure to push the next year 32nm and 22nm SoC products, like the 32nm Medfield (see also an up to date collection about Medfield inside).
Updates: Intel to adopt TI, Broadcom wireless chips for Medfield, Clover Trail-W platforms [Dec 30, 2011]
Intel will adopt the Texas Instruments-developed (TI) WL1283 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/GPS chips for its Medfield platform to be launched in the second quarter of 2012 and Broadcom-developed 4330/4751 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/GPS chips for its Clover Trail-W platform to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Taiwan-based notebook makers.
In addition to improved processor performance, the Medfield platform, which is designed specifically for Android 4.0, will also feature several unique technologies including Intel Wireless Display, Advanced Imaging and Connected Standby, with devices that adopt the platform to also see a thickness less than 0.85cm and a weight less than 1.5lb.
As for the Clover Trail-W, which is designed for Windows 8 operating system, Intel will also equip the platform with its latest technologies including Intel Wireless Display, Compute Continuum, PC Sync, One Tap NFC, Advanced Imaging and HW Enhanced Security.
In addition to the chips from TI and Broadcom, chips such as IMC’s IFX6260, Ericsson’s C5621gw and NXP’s PN65N are all being listed within Intel’s list of purchasing for tablet PCs, while the company will also adopt Sierra’s EM77x0 chip for its Clover Trail-W for the platform to support LTE technology.
– Intel to launch Medfield platform in 2Q12, Clover Trail-W platform in 4Q12 [Digitimes, Dec 29, 2011]
Intel plans to launch its Medfield platform running on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) OS in the second quarter of 2012 and then release its Clover Trail-W platform running on Windows 8 in the fourth quarter of the year.
As few tablet PC vendors have adopted its existing Oak Trail platform, which can pair Atom Z670 processor/SM35 chipsets with either Windows 7 or Android Honeycomb, Intel is aggressive in promoting Medfield hoping to turn the tide.
As for the Windows on ARM (WoA) platform, both Nvidia and Qualcomm will advance their processors to the quad-core generation in 2012 and still maintain the advantages of low power consumption. But as both are facing bottlenecks in their development of support for Windows 8 and shortages in R&D staff and resources, whether the platform can fend off Wintel’s competition remains uncertain.
– Intel’s Atom N2600, N2800 & D2700: Cedar Trail, The Heart of the 2012 Netbook [Anandtech, Dec 28, 2011]
While the original Atom and Pineview (Pine Trail’s Atom) were built on Intel’s 45nm process, Cedar Trail moves to 32nm. Cedar Trail’s SoC shrinks to 56mm2, finally making it smaller than AMD’s Zacate APU. The underlying CPU architecture hasn’t really changed, nor have cache sizes (512KB L2 per core) or clock speeds (1.66GHz and 1.86GHz parts available), so what this is really about is a reduction in power consumption.
There are three Atom CPUs being offered as a part of Cedar Trail: the N2600, N2800 and D2700. Just as before, the N-series are for netbooks while the D-series are for desktops. All of the Cedar Trail Atoms are dual-core parts, but they all slot into the same power envelope as the old single-core Pine Trial platforms (5 – 8W). The only exception is the D2700 which is a 10W platform. Note that this is the total TDP for the Atom SoC + the NM10 Express chipset (providing USB, LAN, PCIe, etc…).
The spec breakdown is below:
Given the same number of cores and the same clock speeds, CPU performance shouldn’t go up compared to Pine Trail. Since everything is now dual-core we should see a boost at the low end, but I wouldn’t expect to see CPU performance that’s better than Zacate.
Cedar Trail now supports DDR3-800 and 1066 (up from 667MHz max data rates before). The bigger change is the GPU. The GMA 3150 used in Pine Trail was an Intel Gen graphics derivative (45nm GMA 3100), however Cedar Trail now features a PowerVR SGX 545 sourced from Imagination Technologies. At 640MHz in the N2800, we’ve never seen the SGX 545 run at anywhere near this clock speed before so it’ll be interesting to see how well it performs. Intel is claiming a > 2x GPU performance improvement compared to the GMA 3150 in Pine Trail in 3DMark 06. The big question is Windows driver maturity, but we’ll find out soon enough as systems based on Cedar Trail are in production now and are expected to ship in early 2012. Expect to see Cedar Trail netbooks from ASUS, Acer, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba for starters.
The new graphics block also includes support for H.264 video decode acceleration (we’re still digging for specifics) as well as Intel Wireless Display technology. Note that WiDi support will vary depending on the system and price point:
Intel is expecting the vast majority of Cedar Trail netbooks to be sold in the $199 – $229 price point. At $299 is where you’ll likely find features like WiDi as well as potentially fanless designs. Don’t expect any of those new form factors at $399 until the later part of next year, likely coinciding with Windows 8’s release.
Overall the addition of HD video decode support and lower power consumption are both nice features to have, but I’m skeptical as to whether this will be enough to carry Intel based netbooks throughout the majority of 2012. Atom is in dire need of an architecture update (something we’ll get in 2013) and the netbook as a platform is in need of a refresh. I do hope to see some manufacturers taking risks with slim, fanless Cedar Trail based designs next year but we’ll have to wait and see if they’re any good.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec. 28, 2011 – Intel Corporation today announced the availability of the latest mobile Intel Atom processor-based platform, formerly codenamed “Cedar Trail.” Designed to provide small, compact, on-the-go computing with great battery life at an affordable price, the latest platform adds several new features to netbook computers made popular by students, families, and those looking for light productivity and Internet browsing. These devices will be available in early 2012 [beginning in January starting at US$199] from major OEMs including: Acer*, Asus*, HP*, Lenovo*, Samsung*, and Toshiba*.
The new design’s dedicated media engine enables full 1080p high-definition playback of videos and Blu-Ray content and includes additional digital display and output options including HDMI and DisplayPort. The integrated Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 3600/3650 combined with the integrated memory controller provides enhanced performance and system responsiveness, including an improvement in graphics performance up to 2X compared to the previous generation platform.
Systems based on the new Intel Atom processors may have up to 10 hours of battery life and weeks of standby, allowing for all-day use between charges. Additionally, Intel increased processor and overall system performance while reducing power consumption up to 20 percent compared to the previous platform.
Based on Intel’s leading-edge 32nm process technology, Intel incorporated several new features into the platform such as Intel® Wireless Display and Intel® Wireless Music. With these new features and wireless enabled devices, people can share videos or photos wirelessly from their netbooks to a television, or stream music through their home stereo speakers.
Additional features such as Intel® Smart Connect Technology allows users to have an instant Internet connection as soon as they open their netbook, and have email, Twitter* and RSS feeds automatically updated even in sleep mode. Intel® Rapid Start Technology enables fast resume from standby mode and helps conserve battery life.
The dual-core Intel Atom processor N2600 [runs at 1.6GHz and draws 3.5 watts of power] and Intel Atom processor N2800 [runs at 1.86GHz and draws 6.5 watts of power] are paired with the Intel® NM10 Express Chipset and feature a small form factor package size that saves system board real estate and enables thinner netbook designs. In addition to the mobile processors, Intel offers the Intel Atom processor D2500 and D2700 for entry-level desktop and all-in-one designs, as well as intelligent system solutions. The platform supports a range of operating systems including: Windows*, MeeGo*, and Tizen*.
New Features, Lower Power Have Broad Appeal
The new Intel Atom processors provide a lower thermal design power (TDP) and power management features such as Intel® Deeper Sleep and Intel® SpeedStep Technology that enable lower power designs, making it especially attractive for netbooks as well as intelligent systems including: healthcare equipment, retail systems and entry-level digital signage.
In health care settings, the improved battery life and enhanced graphics means medical professionals can enhance patient care and bring infotainment services to a patient’s bedside. ARBOR* technology will release a new patient infotainment bedside terminal, based on the Intel Atom processor N2800 that helps clinicians improve workflow management and work efficiency, reduce human error, and enhance healthcare quality. Patients can also enjoy access to plenty of multi-media entertainment, hospital information and communication services on the system.
The always on, always connected capabilities are also ideal for entry-level point-of-sale systems with the ability to boot up instantly to serve customer’s at a moment’s notice. Point-of-sale terminals based on the Intel Atom processor D2700 and manufactured by NCR Corporation* will be installed in restaurant and retail locations throughout the U.S. beginning in the first quarter of 2012.
Intelligent system designs are offered 7-year lifecycle support, as well as support for Windows Embedded Standard 7*, Windows XP and XPe*, Windows Embedded Compact*, Yocto Project* and Wind River VxWorks* operating systems.
For more information, video, and photos visit www.intel.com/newsroom/atom and the Intel Atom Processor-based Platform for Mobile Computing press kit.
– Intel’s smartphone guru angles for smooth landing [Reuters, Dec 23, 2011]
[Mike] Bell [the head of new MCG], a mechanical engineering major whose resume includes a stint at Palm, hopes to reverse that. Within Intel, he is known as a “phone guy” with a good understanding of chips, rather than a “chip guy” trying to figure out phones.
Underscoring the urgency of his brief, Chief Executive Paul Otellini has given Bell carte blanche to draw on Intel’s assets. Bell has used that to rope experts from different departments into an autonomous group focused on integrating software like Android with Intel’s chip designs.
Intel for now is keeping most of its advances close to the vest. But in a field where power-efficiency ranks about as high as computing velocity, Bell believes Intel’s newest chip, the Medfield, is just about ready for prime time.
“Medfield is our first real foray into the space. We have no apologies to make in power or performance. It’s a fantastic first step for us,” the shaggy-haired executive said.
Some experts believe Intel’s proprietary architecture is ill-suited for mobile processors. Apple and other manufacturers rely on technology licensed by Britain’s ARM Holdings.
But Bell, who left Palm to join Intel more than a year ago, believes Medfield can hold its own against rival chips offered by the likes of Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia.
With processors also made by Texas Instruments Inc and Samsung stealing the show, his engineers have been laboring to adapt technology refined over decades for PCs to work better in handheld devices without quickly draining their batteries.
“Based on our own internal research, we think Medfield is going to be very competitive in the time frame that it ships against anything in the market,” he argued.
Bell has brought in talent from outside to propel his effort, including engineers from Apple and other smartphone makers. And he has leveraged an internal R&D machine that the chipmaker poured almost $7 billion into last year.
Intel will manufacture Medfield using a 32-nanometer process, which packs more transistors into the same space than rival chips made on wider line-width processes. It plans next year to shrink the process down to 22 nanometers.
“We already have the next three generations on the drawing board and in process,” Bell said.
His rapid ascent at Intel came at a time of turbulence. He began in July 2010 as a vice president in charge merely of building reference devices to show off chips to customers. Salesmen at the time wielded a brick-like device that could perform basic features — but sorely lacked panache.
To help his team and customers envision the experience, he designed a whole new Android smartphone, distributed to potential clients and internally to a thousand employees. Their feedback helped inform development.
In March, Bell and Dave Whalen took over the Ultra Mobility division after Intel veteran Anand Chandrasekher, who led Intel’s charge into netbooks, resigned. Some investors took his departure as a sign the company was struggling with its smartphone strategy.
Then a week ago, Intel consolidated four divisions into a mobile and communications unit led by Bell and ex-Infineon executive Hermann Eul. Both are general managers of the group, but Bell heads up processor development while Eul oversees connectivity chips including modems, Bluetooth and WiFi.
At Palm, Bell had led a team that created the Pre and Pixi. But he became one of many to jump ship after the struggling company was acquired by Hewlett Packard Co last year.
Before that, he spent 16 years at Apple, where he had a hand in developing the iMac, iPhone and Apple TV. One industry insider who had worked with him said Bell’s ace card is his ability to understand how to design and build phones and bring them to market. He sees how different parts work together, like software and hardware, instead of concentrating on chips.
– Intel Shows Off Its Smart Phone and Tablet for 2012 [Technology Review by MIT, Dec 21, 2011]
Last week, Technology Review tried out prototype smart phones and tablets equipped with Intel’s latest mobile chip, dubbed Medfield, and running the Android mobile operating system created by Google. “We expect products based on these to be announced in the first half of 2012,” says Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel’s architecture group.
Known as “reference designs,” the devices are sent out to inspire and instruct manufacturers interested in building products around Intel’s latest technology. “They can use as much or as little of the reference design as they like,” says Smith, who hinted that the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January could bring news of gadgets in which Intel’s chips will appear.
Intel’s Medfield is the latest in its “Atom” line of mobile chips. So far none of them have seriously threatened the dominance of ARM-based chips in mobile devices, in part because they are more power-hungry. However, the new chip represents a significant technological step toward lower power consumption.
Previous Atom designs spread the work of a processor across two or three chips, a relatively power-intensive scheme that originated many years ago in Intel’s PC chips. But now Intel has finally combined the core functions of its processor designs into one chunk of silicon. “This is our first offering that’s truly a single chip,” says Smith. The all-in-one design, known as a system on-a-chip, is a standard feature of the ARM chips so dominant in smart phones today.
The phone prototype seen by Technology Review was similar in dimensions to the iPhone 4 but noticeably lighter, probably because the case was made with more plastic and less glass and metal. It was running the version of Google’s operating system shipping with most Android phones today, known as Gingerbread; a newer version, Ice Cream Sandwich, was released by Google only about a month ago.
The phone was powerful and pleasing to use, on a par with the latest iPhone and Android handsets. It could play Blu-Ray-quality video and stream it to a TV if desired; Web browsing was smooth and fast. Smith says Intel has built circuits into the Medfield chip specifically to speed up Android apps and Web browsing.
One feature that stood out was the camera’s “burst mode,” which captures 10 full-size eight-megapixel images at a rate of 15 per second. Smith says that feature rests on a combination of image-processing circuits built into the Medfield chip and dedicated software tweaks on top, technology that comes in part from Intel’s acquisition of the Dutch image-processing company Silicon Hive earlier this year. This kind of hardware could help apps developed for augmented reality.
Intel’s reference tablet, which used the same Medfield chip as the phone, was running the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. It had a slightly larger screen than the iPad 2 but was about the same in thickness and weight. A limited trial suggested that it was noticeably nicer to use than older tablets based on the abandoned Honeycomb version of Android.
It took time for engineers to find a way to compress their usual three-chip design into a single system-on–a-chip, says Smith, and to help Google make Android work on Intel chips. Now Intel finally has a chip that can match and even surpass established mobile chips. “Now we have this in place, we can accelerate,” Smith says. “We haven’t been able to show a production-grade design before.”
Intel has tested its reference handset against a handful of the leading phones on sale today. It says these tests show that Medfield offers faster browsing and graphics performance and lower power consumption than the top three, says Smith.
Linley Gwennap, an analyst with the Linley Group, says it’s very significant that Intel is finally offering a fully integrated system-on-a-chip. “It should make Intel more competitive—they’re kind of at the same level as anyone now,” he says. Gwennap adds that Medfield chips use more advanced technology than the established competition, which means the chip’s features are much smaller. That helps improve power consumption and processing power. “Medfield is based on 32-nanometer technology, while the biggest fabs making ARM-based processors are today shipping either 40 or 45 nanometers,” he says.
That lead is likely to disappear as ARM-based processors catch up in the next year, but Smith says that Intel will start making mobile processors using 22-nanometer technology in 2013. Manufacturers of ARM-based chips say they plan to make that jump in 2014. Gwennap says this next generation will give Intel its best hope of grabbing a significant chunk of a new market: “I expect they’ll get into a few phones with Medfield, and then it will be the 22-nanometer chip that really makes a difference.”
However, Gwennap notes that Intel could lag behind in other ways. Although it has caught up by integrating everything a processor needs into a single chip, established mobile chip makers like Qualcomm are already going a step further by incorporating the usually separate wireless modem chip, resulting in even further efficiency gains. Smith says Intel isn’t ready to talk about when it might also make that step.
End of updates
– Intel: accelerated Atom SoC roadmap down to 22nm in 2 years and a “new netbook experience” for tablet/mobile PC market [April 17 – June 7, 2011]
– Intel’s SoC strategy strengthened by 22nm Tri-Gate technology [May 10 – Nov 30, 2011]
– Netbook prices starting $50 less at $200 via Intel MeeGo strategy [July 29 – Aug 17, 2011]
– Supply chain battles for much improved levels of price/performance competitiveness [Aug 16-19, 2011]
– More on supply chain battles for … [Aug 31, 2011]
– Be aware of ZTE et al. and white-box (Shanzhai) vendors: Wake up call now for Nokia, soon for Microsoft, Intel, RIM and even Apple! [Feb 21 – March 25, 2011]
– CES 2011 presence with Microsoft moving to SoC & screen level slot management that is not understood by analysts/observers at all [Jan 7–13, 2011]
– Microsoft’s next step in SoC level slot management [May 27 – June 2, 2011]
– Acer repositioning for the post Wintel era starting with AMD Fusion APUs [June 17, 2011]
– Acer & Asus: Compensating lower PC sales by tablet PC push [March 29, 2011, with comprehensive update on Aug 2, 2011]
– Intel’s industry position and prospects for years ahead [Dec 9, 2010 – March 21, 2011, with “Intel executive quits as smartphone biz falters”]
– Gartner: media tablets are the new segment next to mobile PCs and desktops, as well as web- and app-capable mobile phones [April 16 – June 13, , 2011]
– Intel Oak Trail to beat ARM with MeeGo specific prices [Nov 25, 2010]
– Windows 7 tablets/slates with Oak Trail Atom SoC in December [Nov 1 – Nov 24, 2010]
– Imagination Technologies becoming the multimedia IP leader for SoC vendors [Dec 16, 2011] from which “Intel relationship insert” inside contains a kind of comprehensive summary of mobile computing related SoC results by Intel. This can be represented here by the below table:
One thing is quite obvious from all that related information: it took 9 months to work out a new mobile computing business strategy after the March collapse of the previous one (i.e. when “Intel executive quits as smartphone biz falters”). Let see now what we know about that new strategy so far:
Intel combines divisions in bid to boost mobile [Reuters, Dec 14, 2011]
Chipmaker Intel is combining four divisions under a new mobile and communications unit in a bid to catch up in smartphones and tablets, where it has so far failed to gain traction.
The new division combines Intel’s netbook and tablets division, its ultra mobility division, the mobile communications division and the mobile wireless division, spokesman Robert Manetta told Reuters.
“The ultimate goal is we want to speed up and improve the development process,” he said.
Intel’s processors power 80 percent of the world’s PCs but the Santa Clara, California company so far has failed in the fast-growing smartphone and tablet market.
The new division will be headed by Mike Bell, who moved to Intel last year after playing a hand in the development of the iPhone at Apple, and by former Infineon executive Hermann Eul.
Eul had headed Intel’s mobile communications division, which included the cellphone technology business it bought from Infineon in January.
Intel’s mobile wireless groupis responsible for short-range networking like WiFi and the ultra mobility group has developed smartphone processors.
Intel has been adapting its PC chip architecture to be more suitable for mobile gadgets but it faces tough competition from rivals like Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.
They specialize in energy efficient chips — a big factor for devices that rally on batteries — using technology licensed from Britain’s ARM Holdings.
Manufacturers are expected to unveil smartphones using a new Intel mobile chip, codenamed Medfield, early next year.
(Reporting by Noel Randewich, editing by Bernard Orr)
Intel Reorganizes Mobile Business to Speed and Improve Development [IDG, Dec 15, 2011]
In a reorganization of its mobile business, Intel said Wednesday it has formed a new group, called the Mobile and Communications Group (MCG) that will focus on phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
“This is a strategic move designed to provide clear differentiation for Intel-based mobile devices and to speed and improve development of mobile devices and components,” said Intel spokesman Robert Manetta in an email.
The new group is formed by combining four existing Intel groups in the areas of baseband communications, WLAN components, netbooks, tablets, and phones. The groups folded into MCG are Intel Mobile Communications, Mobile Wireless Group, Netbook and Tablet Group, and the Ultra Mobility Group.
The move comes as the company faces stiff competition in the mobile devices market. Although a dominant player in PCs, it is struggling in the mobile devices market where chips based on designs from ARM dominate.
Intel’s mobile business has seen significant changes previously. It announcedin March the resignation of Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and general manager of the Ultra Mobility Group.
Chandrasekher, who was said to have left “to pursue other interests”, led a group responsible for the development of low-power Atom chips for products such as smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices.
The new group announced this week is chartered with creating a “compelling user experience by providing optimal hardware, software, and connectivity ingredients as well as complete solutions”, such as form factor reference designs, Intel said.
Two current Intel executives, Hermann Eul and Mike Bell, will run the new group. Bell was appointed to co-manage the Ultra Mobility Group after Chandrasekher’s exit. Eul heads Intel Mobile Communications, and came to Intel after its acquisition of Infineon Technologies’ wireless division.
Michael Bell on Linked in before this:
Michael Bell’s Experience
Vice President and GM of Ultra Mobility Intel
Public Company; 10,001+ employees; INTC; Semiconductors industry
July 2010 – Present (1 year 6 months)
Partner HALL Wines
Privately Held; 11-50 employees; Wine and Spirits industry
2011 – 2011 (less than a year)
SVP, Product Development Palm
Public Company; 1001-5000 employees; PALM; Consumer Electronics industry
December 2007 – July 2010 (2 years 8 months)
Vice President Apple Inc.
Public Company; 10,001+ employees; AAPL; Computer Software industry
1991 – 2007 (16 years)
Michael Bell’s Education
University of Pennsylvania
Intel ‘Medfield’ chip ready for Ice Cream Sandwich [Dec 5, 2011]
The most recent version of the Google Android operating system, called Ice Cream Sandwich, is ready to run on devices powered by Intel’s ‘Medfield’ processor.
A spokesperson for Intel confirmed that Ice Cream Sandwich would be supported on upcoming Intel Atom Medfield-based devices on Monday.
“Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich will be supported on upcoming Intel ‘Medfield’ processor-based devices, and Intel continues to work closely with Google to optimise Ice Cream Sandwich for future smartphones and tablets based on Intel Atom processors,” an Intel spokesman confirmed.
While the spokesman could not give any release details of specific smartphones or tablets that will use the Medfield chip, he added that device manufacturers and app developers already have access to all the code they need to get started.
“Intel optimisations for Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich are available today to ODMs (Original Design Manufacturer) and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) using the Intel Android BSP (Board Support Package), as well as developers working with us on NDK (Native Development Kit) apps in advance of Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich-based x86 devices being available commercially,” he said.
The introduction of the Medfield chip will be vital to Intel’s mobile strategy which has so far failed to gain traction in the smartphone and tablet markets.
In May, Intel chief Paul Otellini said that Medfield phones would be reaching the market during 2012.
The 32nm Medfield processor is the successor to the 45nm Moorestown processor that found its way into a few notebooks, such as the Nokia Booklet 3G, but failed to make inroads on the smartphone segment.
The company hopes to reduce Medfield to a 22nm production process in 2013 and 14nm in 2014, which should reduce the amount of power the processor needs to work.
Intel Says Android 4.0 for Smartphones, Tablets Ready [IDG, Dec 2, 2011]
Intel on Friday said it has readied Android 4.0 for smartphones and tablets based on its upcoming Atom processor code-named Medfield, raising the possibility of Intel-inside handheld devices being released next year with the new OS.
The company had a version of Android 4.0 for Medfield up and running within a day of Google open sourcing the OS, and now packages for smartphones and tablets with Medfield drivers are available to device makers, said Alec Gefrides, head of the Google Program Office at Intel.
Intel is working with device makers to optimize and fine-tune the OS for specific platforms and products based on Medfield chips. While the OS is expected to be ready in time for the product releases, it will be up to the device makers to decide whether they want to implement the OS in smartphones or tablets.
“We’ll see products next year on Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich and Honeycomb,” Gefrides said, referring to Android versions 2.3, 4.0 and 3.x. “Every OEM has to put a stake in the ground to get a product delivered.”
Paul Otellini Busts Some Myths About Intel [Nov 29, 2011]
Myth No. 2: Intel chips are too power-hungry for mobile devices.
Intel, Otellini says, has built its own demonstration Android smartphone to show off the upcoming Medfield generation of its Atom processor, due in 2012. When its power consumption during basic phone functions like things like standby, audio and HD video playback is measured, Intel isn’t the best, but it’s not the worst, either. It usually comes in second or third place when compared against smartphones already in the market, but ahead of others, though Otellini didn’t say which phones it beat and which ones it didn’t.
And on three computing performance benchmarks it beats the others hands down: When using a browser on a phone, the Intel chip smokes the others. It also wins on GLBench, a graphics metric, and SunSpider, a Java test.
Chip Shot: Medfield – The Next Generation of Tablets from Intel [Intel Chip Shot, May 31, 2011]
At Computex, Intel reiterated its Atom System on a Chip (SoC) roadmap, highlighting “Medfield,” which will be built using Intel’s 32nm high-k metal gate process technology. The purpose-built solution will provide lower power, a smaller footprint and more integration of features and performance for the tablet market. “Medfield” will enable sub-9mm tablets that weigh less than 1.5 pounds and provide all day battery life. The processors will be in production later this year for tablet designs in market the first half of 2012 and support a range of operating systems including Google Android (“Honeycomb”), Windows and MeeGo.
Intel will launch 32nm Medfield specifically for use in smartphones and tablet PCs in the first half of 2012, but will struggle to win general adoption of the platform by vendors which have offered smartphones, according to Taiwan-based makers.
Because Intel did not establish close partnerships with first-tier smartphone vendors, while notebook vendors, which have smartphone product lines, are conservative about the new platform because of the negative experience with Intel’s mobile Internet devices (MID), these factors are expected to pose strong difficulties for Intel to enter the smartphone market.
Intel has been working on improving its Atom SoC for smartphones and tablet PCs, and expects the new chip’s power consumption will drop below 10W with related manufacturing process to also advance to 32nm Saltwell and then 22nm Silvermont, followed by 14nm Airmont within the next three years.
Although Samsung Electronics reportedly will launch a smartphone adopting Medfield and Android 4.0, and will sell it through Sprint, the sources pointed out that the cooperation between the two firms is because Samsung does not want to be limited by a single platform and therefore is more aggressive in developing products with different platforms, but the same situation may not apply for other first-tier smartphone vendors.
Intel’s Medfield Based Android Smartphone Reference Design [Sept 13, 2011]
An App Developer View of IDF2011 [Intel blog, Sept 16, 2011]
Paul [Otellini , CEO of Intel] showed Intel Pair & Share and Intel Teleport Extender. These technologies allow content and communication to be integrated between a mobile device and an Ultrabook. Imagine having your phone in your pocket while you edit a video and getting an SMS sent to that phone, pop up on your screen. Or imagine displaying photos and video captured from multiple mobile devices instantly on your PC. This means applications written for one device can now have experiences that bridge devices.
More Android on Intel was shown. We saw a Medfield based Android tablet running Honeycomb. And we learned of a partnership with Google, that will ensure Intel chips will not only run Android but all future Android OSs will be optimized for Intel. It was then revealed to us that the phone used in the Pair & Share demo was Android running a Medfield processor.
Android* 3.2 on Intel® Architecture [Intel, Oct 19, 2011]
This article will provide a brief summary of the Android* 3.2 operating system platform on Intel® Architecture. Intel® Atom™ based devices create a powerful platform to develop high performance applications using exclusive features found only on Intel® Architecture-based devices.
The 32nm platform Medfield processor based tablet coming in 2012 will deliver enhanced performance and lower power consumption.
Updates on “Medfield,” (only [upto 00:48] ! ) Intel’s first purpose-built 32nm platform for smartphones and tablets. “Medfield” has been optimized for both low power and high performance and will deliver long use-time, rich media and gaming, and advanced imaging capabilities. According to Maloney: “Customers are evaluating the Medfield designs now. We expect products shipping in the next 6 to 9 months, based on these fully functional Medfield designs”.
Maloney also discussed “Medfield,” Intel’s first purpose-built 32nm platform for smartphones and tablets. “Medfield” has been optimized for both low power and high performance and will deliver long use-time, rich media and gaming, and advanced imaging capabilities. To illustrate this point in tablets, Intel showcased a “Medfield” design running Google Android* 3.0 (“Honeycomb”) for the first time. In production later this year, the platform will enable sub-9mm designs that weigh less than 1.5 pounds for tablet designs in market the first half of 2012. It will support a range of operating systems including Android and MeeGo.
Computing Becomes More Personal at Computex [June 7, 2011]
the Netbook and Tablet Group at Intel, made some exciting disclosures to help meet the varied expectations of the companion device market. One of those was “Keeley Lake,” a brand new, convertible design based on the upcoming Atom netbook platform, “Cedar Trail.” With its swivel and fold monitor design, “Keeley Lake” packs in the power and performance of a netbook and the functionality of a tablet.
It will have more than 10 hours of battery life and will include Rapid Start, Smart Connect and Intel Wireless Display for displaying content on TVs and PC Synch.
Intel also highlighted “Medfield,” its first purpose-built 32nm platform for smartphones and tablets. Optimized for low power, high performance and longer use-time, these processors will be in production later this year and you can see “Medfield”-based tablets out in the market in the first half of 2012.
Both “Keeley Lake” and “Medfield” will support a range of operating systems including Windows, Google Android and MeeGo.
Intel Expands Mobile Computing with New Silicon, Software and Connectivity Capabilities [Intel press release, Feb 14, 2011]
Expanding upon Intel’s silicon capabilities, the company announced that it is sampling its 32nm “Medfield” smart phone chip with customers. “Medfield” is scheduled for introduction this year and will extend the performance benefits of Intel architecture into a low-power solution specifically designed for the smart phone market segment.
Financial Times was reporting from the Barclay’s Capital event as Intel inside 35 tablets, no phone till H2 2011 [Dec 8, 2010]
Mr Otellini said the phone game represented a marathon not a sprint for Intel. It was tackling issues of certification, modem integration and the telecoms software stack. Its smartphone processor codenamed Medfield was currently being debugged for shipment in 2011 and 2012, he added.
Medfield is the successor to the Moorestown chip, launched in May, which still does not match the low-power capabilities of Arm-based phone processors and has not appeared in any smartphones this year, despite Intel’s high hopes expressed at the CES show in January.
Updates: Spreadtrum selects CSR connectivity and Location for Smartphone reference designs [CSR press release, Feb 27, 2012]
CSR plc (LSE: CSR; NASDAQ: CSRE) today announced that Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD), a Chinese fabless semiconductor company, has chosen CSR plc to provide wireless connectivity and location technologies for the Spreadtrum® SC8805G TD-SCDMA and SC6810 EDGE/WIFI low cost smartphone reference designs in order to meet market demand in China and emerging markets for internet access, data transfer, and location. Specifically, CSR will provide its CSR6027™ Wi-Fi solution, the SiRFstarIV™ location platform and Bluetooth for the reference designs. This is an extension to CSR’s relationship with Spreadtrum on feature phone platforms on which CSR connectivity, location and Bluetooth technologies are already in volume shipment.
“Spreadtrum has been instrumental in helping Chinese manufacturers to capitalise on the smartphone revolution by offering low-cost, easy-to-integrate processors and reference designs that speed time-to-market for wireless communication products,” said Ahmet Alpdemir, senior vice president of CSR’s Mobile Business Group “We view this partnership as an excellent way to continue to expand our market presence in China and other emerging markets for cost effective smartphones.”
Part of CSR’s UniFi® product line, CSR6027/6030 is a WAPI-qualified version for the Chinese market of the CSR6026™ single-chip solution delivering Wi-Fi 802.11n support for mobile embedded devices such as smartphones. The product provides manufacturers with low-cost, high performance Wi-Fi support without compromising battery life or space. CSR6027 offers a PowerSave feature ensuring that mobile devices can achieve optimal battery life, and offers a very small system footprint and very low eBom (electronic bill of materials), enabling easy integration into mobile devices.
SiRFstarIV is the market-leading location platform, now deployed in hundreds of consumer products worldwide, offering high acquisition and tracking performance and accuracy, low battery consumption, and active jammer removal. These features will bring to consumers of SC8805G and SC6810-enabled devices the ability to get a position fix with optimal speed, in varying conditions such as under dense foliage or in urban canyons, with very low battery consumption.
About the SC8805G and SC6810
The SC8805G for TD-SCDMA and the SC6810 for EDGE/Wi-Fi both come with a hardware reference design and compliance-tested software, which will accelerate time to market. Both are based on an ARM-9 600MHz processor which supports Android 2.2, 2D graphics, camera support up to 5MP, MPEG4 decoder and encoder, an HVGA touch screen LCD display and a range of connectivity options including Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth.
CSR is a global provider of innovative silicon and software solutions for the location-aware, media-rich, cloud-connected world. Our platforms are optimised for the automotive navigation and infotainment, digital cameras and imaging, connected home infotainment and wireless audio markets. We provide solutions to complex problems in the audio-visual, connectivity and location technology domains across a broad range of markets, with a technology portfolio that includes GPS/GNSS systems, Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi®, FM, NFC, aptX® and CVC™ audio codecs, JPEG, MPEG, H.264 imaging, IPS printing, microcontrollers, DSPs and broadband receivers. CSR’s technology solutions and market platforms enable its customers to deliver a superior user experience and are adopted by leaders in the auto, computer, home and mobile markets. More information can be found at www.csr.com. Keep up to date with CSR on our blog, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CSR_plc.
Delivers 1GHz Smartphone Performance to US$100 Handsets
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today introduced a 1GHz Android smartphone platform for TD-SCDMA (SC8810) and EDGE/WiFi (SC6820) and announced that both products are now sampling with customers. With these two new solutions, Spreadtrum is redefining the performance standard for low-cost smartphones, enabling OEMs to deliver 1GHz performance at US$100 retail prices.
“Our 1GHz Android platform sets a new bar for low-cost smartphone performance,” said Dr. Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s president and CEO. “The graphics and web browsing performance of the SC8810 and SC6820 compares favorably to one of the most popular smartphone models globally, delivering a high performance applications and gaming experience for consumers. This type of experience has previously been available only in mid- to high-end handset models and can now be delivered by OEMs in US$100 smartphone models. This will reshape the definition of and consumer expectations for a low-cost handset.”
Spreadtrum’s 1GHz platform is the most highly integrated, lowest power smartphone platform for the TD-SCDMA market. The solution delivers the lowest chip count with a multimode single-chip RF transceiver supporting TD-SCDMA, EDGE, GPRS and GSM and integrates power management. The platform’s Cortex A5 processor architecture delivers more than 40% lower power consumption compared to ARM11-based products and more than 70% lower power consumption than Cortex A9 products, delivering differentiated standby and talk time performance relative to other smartphone models.
Designed with 40nm CMOS silicon technology, the SC8810 and SC6820 baseband platforms are powered by a Cortex A5 1GHz processor and incorporate an advanced multimedia subsystem which includes a Mali GPU with 3D/2D graphics acceleration and supports high definition video playback, a 5 megapixel camera, a WVGA touch panel and connectivity features including Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS. The SC8810 supports TD-SCDMA with HSDPA at 2.8Mbps, HSUPA at 2.2Mbps as well as quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE with dual-mode auto handover, while the SC6820 supports quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM. Both products combine silicon hardware with turnkey Android software that reduce both the design time and design resources required to deliver new handsets to market.
Spreadtrum’s expansion of its smartphone platform coincides with rapidly increasing demand in China for smartphone products. Industry analysts expect the smartphone market in China to exceed 100 million units in 2012, leading global demand for smartphone products.
Highly Integrated TD-LTE Platform Places Spreadtrum at Forefront of 4G Evolution in China
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company” ), a leading fabless semiconductor provider inChina with advanced technology in 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards, today introduced its first TD-LTE baseband modem, the SC9610. Designed with 40nm CMOS silicon, the SC9610 integrates multiple communication standards into a single-chip design, including multiband TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM. The SC9610, which now expands Spreadtrum’s product portfolio to 4G standards, is sampling with customers who are evaluating the chip for use in high end smartphone and datacard designs.
“Our single-chip multi-mode TD-LTE solution is a highly integrated platform specifically designed for the communication standards in use inChina,” said Dr.Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s president and CEO. “We are launching our solution as China Mobile begins more extensive trials domestically. The depth of experience we bring in TD-SCDMA products, combined with our early leadership in China’s 4G network evolution, positionsSpreadtrumas a long-term leading provider of multimode baseband solutions.”
TD-LTE or “Time-Division Long-Term Evolution” is a 4G standard and the evolution path from 3G TD-SCDMA for China Mobile, China’s largest domestic operator with more than 640 million total subscribers and an expected 50 million 3G subscribers as of the end of 2011. China Mobile has begun trials and network investment in TD-LTE and will continue to do so until commercial licenses are granted by the China government, which has also required that TD-LTE handsets be backward compatible with TD-SCDMA. Spreadtrum’s leadership in the TD-SCDMA market and the maturity of its multimode technology for TD-SCDMA/EDGE/GPRS/GSM ensures strong performance across both TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA communications standards while the single-chip multi-mode design enables a more seamless handover experience than multi-chip solutions.
Spreadtrum’s SC9610 supports multiple bands, achieves downlink speeds of 100 Mbps and uplink speeds of 50 Mbps and supports 5, 10, 15 and 20 MHz channels and 2×2 MIMO. The SC9610 is currently progressing through field trials inChinain tandem with customer design-in activities.
End of updates
– Huawei’s IDEOS U8150 smartphone for US$86 in Kenya: 350,000 units sold in 8 months [Aug 17 – 23, 2011] and that is an Android 2.2 smartphone based on Qualcomm SoC
– Blurring lines between smartphones and feature phones: the Muve Music Phone case from Cricket Communications [Dec 2, 2011] where the entry level, Qualcomm SoC based Android smartphone has an M.S.R.P. of $129.99 while on Amazon currently sold for $69.99
– OPhone 2.5 and beyond from Borqs for China Mobile [Dec 5, 2011] in which the current entry-level Ophone 2.5 (Android 2.2 compatible) TD-SCDMA smartphones (based on Marvell’s PXA918/920 SoC) have street price of ~$140
– First real chances for Marvell on the tablet and smartphone fronts [Aug 21 – Nov 23, 2011] where other Marvell related information is shown as well the fact is well illustrated that Marvell continues to be the only provider of a single-chip TD smartphone solution, the first to work with SoC customers to deliver $100 TD smartphones.
– High expectations on Marvell’s opportunities with China Mobile [May 28, 2011]
– ASUS, China Mobile and Marvell join hands in the OPhone ecosystem effort for “Blue Ocean” dominance [March 8, 2011]
Third Quarter 2011 Spreadtrum Communications Inc Earnings Conference Call [Transcript, Nov 11, 2011]
In the fourth quarter, Spreadtrum will be introducing a low-cost TD-SCDMA smartphone solution. This solution will be based upon 40 nanometer single core processor, running Android 2.2, that can enable a PCBA cost of less than $30. We believe that this low-cost solution will help to grow total smartphone volume next year.
We expect the TD-SCDMA market to grow significantly in volumes in 2012 and 2013. The TD network is continuing to improve, and China Mobile phase five deployment is now addressing the blind spots in cities and delivering nationwide coverage as well. The government has indicated that they do not plan to issue a commercial license for LTE until 2014. In the meantime, China Mobile needs to offload the voice and data traffic from the congested 2.5G network to the TD-SCDMA network, which has a greater capacity.
Consumers now have access to a wider portfolio of feature phones and smartphones, with the price and performance of TD-SCDMA feature phones close to the EDGE handset.We believe that in 2012 the TD-SCDMA market will grow to around 90 million units, up from the estimated 50 million units this year. We expect that 60 million units will be delivered through the China Mobile central and local channels. Another 30 million units will sell through the open channels.
With the 40 nanometer platform, we are now — is more than 50% of market share of total shipments of TD-SCDMA market. I hope we can maintain a dominant position moving next year, because continue with the 40 nanometers products.
On top of that, like I said in my script, we have introduced low-end smartphone platforms, so by the end of the year, to the TD-SCDMA market as well. So, in other words, we will be providing more products, a better portfolio to the TD-SCDMA market, so, hopefully, that we will still maintaining the leading position in TD-SCDMA market.
Bill Lu – Morgan Stanley – Analyst
I think you’re introducing some smartphone solutions right now. If we just focus on the EDGE solution, this is something that a couple of competitors have done in the past, and it hasn’t done very well, historically, right — the EDGE smartphone. I think part of it was maybe cost was too high. It sounds like you’re addressing that.
Your PCBA cost is quite low, but something that other people complain about is also the performance just isn’t good enough with a low velocity processor — that the whole thing is just too laggy. You’re going to do it with a single chip approach. I’m sure you’ve talked to many customers about this.What kind of feedback are you getting from customers, and how do you think (inaudible)?
… local kings and the brand names, operators in the emerging market. They all asked me the same question. They said, Leo, can you provide us with adequate performance? Not the best — not even say good performance — adequate, right? However, with the EDGE (inaudible), right? And the EDGE / WiFi, obviously, Android based.
Basically, the idea is it’s not necessary to say, hey, let’s, like, take more — customer away from high-end smartphones. Rather, I think this is to convert some of the high-end feature phone people to, say, affordable smartphones.
To address your first part of the question, you say, hey, Leo, why the competitors have a similar solution, and they’re not as successful as we think. There — you said one reason is the cost is not low enough. Second, we also compare our performance, which is 40 nano, about 600 megahertz, and on the same — the Android 2.2, right, what we found was the better or improved performance on our chip.
On top of that, one of the main things, also, is the 40 nano brings down the current consumption — power consumption, right. That also helps a little bit. However, yes, this is the first introduction to the market. I think it has the usage. I said it my script also.
If you want to say use WCDMA based smartphones, right. So, in addition to more expensive baseband chips, on top of that, you have to pay also the IP royalty to others, and that which is like a 6% to 7% of handset price, that is very, very high. So — and in the emerging market, the WCDMA signals is not that great. Coverage is very poor, so it’s no point to use the WCDMA.
Rather, if you have one of the faster communication, use WiFi, and then, the rest of the day, just use EDGE. So it seems to be attractive product.The feedback from customers, by the way, on this one, is very positive.
… could talk about your [smartphone] targets …
What I said in my script, with low-end introduction, 600 megahertz, single core. However, I think, around Q1 next year, we will be introducing a one gigahertz TD-SCDMA smartphone chip to the market, and also, 900 to one gig EDGE/WiFi Android 2.2 and Android 2.3 platforms to the market. Yes.
I think the smartphone is very important to everyone, so we also kind of try to speed up the smartphone development. So, the first ones are 600 megahertz, like I said, TD-SCDMA and EDGE/WiFi to both market.
Qin Zhang- JP Morgan – Analyst
I just have a follow-up question on this. So, for instance, my understanding is that Marvell actually has over 50% market share in the TD smartphone segment in the fourth quarter. I just wonder, like, what is the target market share that you think Spreadtrum can get in the TD smartphone space?
Yes. In Q3, even early part of the Q4, obviously, we do not have a low-end smartphone solution.Yes, the other people who had a solution enjoyed the show there. However, I think, next year, when we introduce the low-end 600 megahertz — and we will be introducing one gig in — like, an Android 2.3 product to the market. I mean, the cost will be very competitive, and yes, the performance will be attractive to regular consumers — a better performance. That’s my point.
I think we definitely can take market share away from the competitors — to exactly what number, obviously, the higher the better for us. However — my — the general point, really, is with the smartphone solution, we definitely will be able compete better — I mean, next year — a better position to compete next year.
Qin Zhang- JP Morgan – Analyst
Got it. And my second question is also on — it’s also on the timeline of the Android product. So, I just wonder, like, let’s say, for the fourth quarter, when we launch the TD-SCDMA, as well as EDGE Android platforms, how many months do we have to wait until we see these products in the retail market?
I think you should be able to see that in Q1, hopefully, on the — unfortunately, Q1, there is China — Chinese New Year, right — a delay, somewhat, for the action. I think, generally, the — in Q1 and early Q2, there definitely will see the product introduced to the market, both for TD and for EDGE/WiFi. And then, also, that — we’re talking about the one we introduce by the end of this year, Android 2.2. And then, I think, around Q2 timeframe, yes, we should be introducing 2.3 to the market as well. So we are addressing smartphones segment next year.
Bill Lu – Morgan Stanley – Analyst
… your EDGE smartphone … I think you have mentioned that this solution is including WiFi. Is that your own WiFi, or are you buzzing somebody else’s WiFi?
… I do not have my WiFi solution yet. I think that we will work with a partner. …
[they have selected CSR6027™ Wi-Fi solution for that, which was announced by CSR just on Feb 27, 2012 on MWC, but the decision should have been much earlier]
Jessica Chang – Deutsche Bank – Analyst
Thanks. Hi, Leo and Shannon. Congrats on your good results again. I have a few questions. First, can you share with us how many TD smartphone customers have you been working with right now?
Five to six clients. … entering mass production … Q1 next year. … with the Android 2.2 platform.
Jessica Chang – Deutsche Bank – Analyst
And how about your — the EDGE/WiFi smartphone? How many clients do you have right now?
I have more clients. Maybe eight to ten customers.Yes. I think the introduction to the market will be also in Q1 timeframe.
Jessica Chang – Deutsche Bank – Analyst
… you have so many new products and different platform, different geometry and clock space. Can you help us to maybe rank your growth driver for next year — maybe, like, your first three, by the (inaudible)?
Yes, we have quite a few products, which will be — introduced or will be introduced to the market. That’s why I spent so much money in R&D. Anyway, I think the first one will be smartphones introduced to the market, like, 600 megahertz, right — clock speed wise.
And then, the second quarter, or Q3, will be one gigahertz, or 900 megahertz, smartphones solution to the market.The second, also, in next year — I think, around summertime next year, most of — almost all of our products will be 40 nano based, which is very good.
Thirdly, also, the driving factor will be — in the summer, or Q3, will be first to hopefully introduce a WCDMA solution to the market. That is revenue I never had before. Okay? So, it would be nice to have some new additional revenue. In other words, the driving factors, from technology product point of view, are smartphones and 40 nano based and thirdly,Ws.
Jay Srivatsa – Chardan Capital Markets – Analyst
Yes. Thanks for taking my question, Leo. There’s been a lot of questions on TD. Let me ask a question on WCDMA. As you look to next year to roll out your WCDMA solution, obviously, there’s a large incoming player there. How do you hope to be able to penetrate that market successfully with your solution?
The WCDMA position product — first of all, we’re going to use our 40 nano based platform to do the design, so that, not only the die size will be fairly small, right. Second, the current consumption will be fairly good, and also, in same time, to enhance the performance of WCDMA products. So — and also, with the — like, HSPA+ type of WCDMA, combined with the 2.5G platform of Spreadtrum’s, I think our products will be fairly competitive and attractive.
I know the WCDMA is a relatively mature — more mature market than TD. There’s more competitors out there. However, with a more advanced platform, and then, with the — with — so, with the turnkey solutions, and there’s some business models, and also, closeness to the handset makers that in China, and I think we are confident to compete in that area as well.
Jay Srivatsa – Chardan Capital Markets – Analyst
You’ve talked about Android quite a bit. Can you — and the other hardware development you’ve got coming. Can you talk a little bit on the software side? What is your plan to go after Windows Mobile or other operating systems, as you look ahead to some of the other products out there?
We have a plan also to engage with Windows. I think, maybe, not this year. Maybe — hopefully, we’ll start the next year.You can see the clear trend. Nokia and Microsoft, I think, want a more massive introduction to the market — the Windows — Window based — Windows 7, right? I think it started with 7. Maybe year after next year, it end up with 8.Who knows?
But, yes, I think that’s one of the things that we will catch up with. However, at the moment, for open market, the Android, free of charge — still a nicer thing to the customers.
Solutions Define New Entry Level for Smartphones, Increasing Affordability for China and Emerging Market Consumers
SHANGHAI, Dec. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-Asia-FirstCall/ — Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced the commercial availability of two low-cost Android smartphone platforms, the SC8805G for TD-SCDMA and the SC6810 for EDGE/WiFi. The two 40nm-based 600MHz solutions are based on a low power, cost efficient architecture that lower total phone cost to US$40-50, well below currently available smartphones and easily within reach of sub-$100 retail prices. This entry point can accelerate the overall footprint for smartphones in China and emerging markets by appealing to consumers who might otherwise choose a high end feature phone and by expanding smartphone distribution beyond operator channels to the open market.
“The SC8805G and SC6810 mark Spreadtrum’s entry into the smartphone category [via Android],” said Dr. Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s president and chief executive officer. “We have combined our expertise in 40nm baseband platforms [meaning SC88xx and SC68xx series of SoCs require an additional application processor chip as well] and highly integrated systems to deliver a low-cost solution in a new price segment that will make smartphone devices more accessible to consumers in China and emerging markets.”
Spreadtrum also reaffirmed previously-released Q4 revenue guidance of US$188 million – US$194 million and gross margin guidance of approximately 41%. Dr. Li added, “Our smartphone solutions for TD and EDGE/WiFi are now commercially available and have started shipping. Demand in our 2G and 3G business lines remains healthy and we are on track to meet or exceed our Q4 revenue outlook.”
The SC8805G and the SC6810 are based on Spreadtrum’s turnkey platform, which consists of a hardware reference design and compliance-tested software suite that reduces the engineering requirement and accelerates time to market for handset manufacturers. The two solutions incorporate an ARM-9 600MHz processor, integrate power management and support Android 2.2, 2D graphics, camera support up to 5MP, MPEG4 decoder and encoder, an HVGA touch screen LCD display, as well as connectivity and broadcast functions including Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, FM and mobile TV.
The SC8805G targets China’s growing demand for low-cost smartphones, supporting China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA standard. China Mobile estimates that next year more than 30 million TD-SCDMA smart phones will be sold to consumers, most in the low-cost segment. The SC6810 is designed for emerging markets, where 3G rollouts are still in development and EDGE/WiFi provides consumers interested in a smartphone experience with the best coverage available.
The two platforms have been designed into models by more than a dozen handset manufacturers, with the first models expected to ship this month. Designs with Spreadtrum’s SC8805G have passed China Mobile’s qualification testing, paving the way for product launch.
About Spreadtrum Communications
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum”) is a fabless semiconductor company that develops baseband and RF processor solutions for the wireless communications market. Spreadtrum combines its semiconductor design expertise with its software development capabilities to deliver highly integrated baseband processors with multimedia functionality and power management. Spreadtrum has developed solutions based on an open development platform, enabling its customers to develop customized wireless products that are feature-rich to meet their cost and time-to-market requirements. For more information, visit www.spreadtrum.com.
Earlier comprehensive information about Spreadtrum: Marvell beaten by Chinese chipmakers in sub 1,000 yuan handset procurement tender of China Mobile [Nov 15, 2010]
Hisense N52 is a feature phone (with CMMB etc.) as New Postcom N332 and T-Smart Q1 are.
Also in the follow-up: Marvell’s single chip TD-SCDMA solutions beaten (again) by two-chip solutions of Chinese vendors [July 11, 2011]
Currently available, related products:
3G Series Baseband Chips:
– SC8800D : TD-SCDMA/GSM/GPRS Multimedia Baseband Chip with ARM926EJ-S® core, clock speeds up to 100MHz
– SC8800S : HSDPA/TD-SCDMA/GSM/GPRS/EDGE Baseband Chip with ARM926EJ-S® core, speeds up to 200MHz: can be used to develop the solutions of Feature phone and Smart phone; and it also can be applied for the PC data card solutions.
– SC8800G : TD-HSPA/TD-SCDMA/GSM/GPRS/EDGE Baseband Chip with ARM926EJ-S® core, clock speeds up to 400MHz:
>>> the world’s first 40nm low power TD-HSPA/TD-SCDMA dual mode communication baseband processor
>>> can be applied to develop the solutions of Feature phone and Smart phone at extremely low cost.
SC8800H : HSDPA/TD-SCDMA/GSM/GPRS/EDGE Baseband Chip with ARM926EJ-S® core, speeds up to 200MHz: for enabling handset manufacturers and operators to offer powerful 3G applications.
Comparison of H, S and G baseband chips of the SC8800:
In more detail from SPRD Annual and Transition Report on EDGARonline [April 6, 2011]
The SC8800 series of baseband semiconductors was first commercially released in October 2005 and is designed for value multimedia and mid-range multimedia wireless terminals that support TD-SCDMA/HSPA and GSM/GPRS/EDGE. The SC8800 baseband semiconductors support dual mode functionality, which enables wireless terminals to support 2G, 2.5G, 2.75G, 3G and 3.5G technologies, and incorporate integrated power management. The SC8800 series supports up to 2.8Mbps HSDPA and 2.2Mbps HSUPA features. Additionally, the SC8800 series supports a digital still camera with a resolution of up to 5 mega-pixels. The SC8800 series incorporates multimedia functionality, which includes streaming video, video telephony, digital audio playback that supports MP3 and other music formats such as AAC and AAC+ and MPEG4 digital video playback, and 64-channel polyphonic ringtone playback.
Model Number Date of Initial Commercial Release • Target Wireless Handset
SC8800D October 2005 • Value TD-SCDMA handsets
[but developed SC880A as “world’s first single chip dual-mode TD-SCDMA/GSM baseband chip” in Apr, 2004 – see below]
- GSM/GPRS Class12, TD- SCDMA Downlink 384kbps
- ARM926EJ core.
- 16K I-Cache,16K D-Cache
- AMR-NB/Midi/ ADPCM/AAC
- Integrated with SDIO I/F
- Integrated touch panel driver
- GSM/GPRS Class12, Edge class10 Quad-band; TD-SCDMA/ HSDPA 1.6Mbps Dual-band
- ARM926EJ 160MHz
- AMR-NB/Midi/ ADPCM/AAC/AAC+
- MPEG4/H.263 QVGA Decoding 25fps
- 2M YUV I/F, 5M JPEG I/F
- Integrated touch panel driver
SC8800H February 2010 • Videophone handsets [like the Hisense N51 or T-Smart Q1 feature phones] [but developed SC8800H Feb, 2007 – see below]
- GSM/GPRS Class12, Edge class10 Quad-band; TD-SCDMA/ HSDPA 1.6MbpsDual-band
- ARM926EJ 200MHz
- MPEG4/H.263 QCIF Codec 15fps
- 2M YUV I/F, 5M JPEG I/F
- Integrated touch panel driver
- GSM/GPRS Class12, Edge class10 Quad-band; TD-SCDMA/ HSDPA 2.8Mbps/HSUPA 2.2MbpsDual-band
- ARM926EJ 400MHz
- AMR-NB/Midi/ ADPCM/AAC/AAC+
- MPEG4/H.263 CIF Decoding 30fps
- H.264 QVGA Decoding 30fps
- 2M YUV I/F, 5M JPEG I/F
- Integrated touch panel driver
- GSM/GPRS Class12, Edge class10 Quad-band; TD-SCDMA/ HSDPA 2.8MbpsDual-band
- ARM926EJ 256MHz
- AMR-NB/Midi/ ADPCM/AAC/AAC+
- MPEG4/H.263 CIF Decoding 30fps
- MPEG4/H.263 QCIF Codec 15fps
- 2M YUV I/F
- Integrated touch panel driver
SC8802G December 2010 • TD Modem
- GSM/GPRS Class12, Edge class10 Quad-band; TD-SCDMA/ HSDPA 2.8Mbps/HSUPA 2.2MbpsDual-band
- ARM926EJ 192MHz16K I-Cache,16K D-Cache
- AMR-NB/Midi/ ADPCM
[SC8805G is for the Android smart phones – see the below CEO statement in Oct’11. ]
Related Milestones :
2001. Jul. Spreadtrum’s wholly-owned subsidiary established in Shanghai, China.
Apr. Spreadtrum incorporated in the Cayman Islands and its wholly owned subsidiary established in California, USA.
2004. Apr. Developed the SC8800A, the world’s first single chip dual-mode TD-SCDMA/GSM baseband chip.
2007. Feb. Successfully developed the SC8800Hchip, a TD-SCDMA Chip that supports HSDPA.
2008. Jan. Acquired US-based RF designcompany – Quorum Systems, Inc.
2009. Feb. Spreadtrum launched the world’s first single-chip RF transceiverto support TD-SCDMA/HSDPA/EDGE/GPRS/GSM standards.
2011. Jan. Successfully launched the world’s first commercial 40nm TD-HSPA/TD-SCDMA multi-mode baseband processor-SC8800G.
My own additions:
The ARM926EJ-S® core is faster than the ARM7TDMI® one. But keep in mind that:
– The entry level ZTE smartphones (one of the leaders on the entry market) are using the Qualcomm MSM7627 chip which has Dual cores: the main one being a higher performing ARM1136EJ-S at 600MHz, and the second core is a 400MHz ARM926EJ-S processor dedicated to modem duties. See: Blurring lines between smartphones and feature phones: the Muve Music Phone case from Cricket Communications [Dec 2, 2011]
– The same is true for the Marvell 918/920/920H single-chip based TD-SCDMA phones introduced by a number of vendors on the Chinese market (ASUS, Coolpad, Hisense, Huawei, Guangdong Mobile, Lenovo, Motorola, RIM, Samsung, Sharp, Sony Ericsson, Yulong and ZTE) with its on-chip dedicated, Marvell-designed ARM9 Modem core and an associated Modem DSP core as well.
– The DMIPS/MHz values of other ARM cores used today is even much higher (in addition to their higher max frequencies for current low power versions shown beneath the DMIPS/MHz values):
Marvell PJ1 Sheeva
ARM Cortex A8
Marvell PJ4 Sheeva
ARM Cortex A9
Commenting on the results, Spreadtrum’s Chairman and CEO, Dr. Leo Li said, “We exceeded revenue guidance in 3Q 2011 as quarterly revenue grew in both our 3G and 2.5G product lines. In the TD-SCDMA market, we continued to gain market share with global and domestic handset manufacturers as a result of our breakthrough standby and talk time and high level of integration. Our basebands are powering the TD-SCDMA version of the Samsung Galaxy S II*, which launched in the third quarter and was well received by consumers. The overall TD-SCDMA market has continued to grow at a good pace given the combination of continuously improving network coverage and compelling portfolio of low-cost feature phones and smartphones that are now available to consumers. In the fourth quarter, we are on track to introduce our low-cost 40nm-based smartphone solutions for both TD-SCDMA and EDGE/WiFi, which we believe will drive further growth in both markets going into 2012. Through improvement in product mix, we have been able to mitigate ASP pressure in low-end feature phones. Looking ahead to 4Q 2011, with continuing growth vectors in both the TD-SCDMA and 2.5G markets, we expect revenue to be in the range of US$188 million – US$194 million with a gross margin of approximately 41%.”
Key business highlights include:
- Expanded Beyond 50% Market Share in TD-SCDMA: Spreadtrum expanded its market footprint with more than 30 customers with 72 handset models, including both global and domestic tier-1 handset manufacturers, by the end of September 2011. In the third quarter, Spreadtrum achieved a dominant market share position in both the feature phone and fixed wireless handset markets and entered the smartphone market with the Samsung Galaxy S II* launch.
- Increased Product Footprint at Samsung to Basebands: The TD-SCDMA version of the Samsung Galaxy S II launched in China in the third quarter and is powered by Spreadtrum’s RF and baseband solutions. This is Spreadtrum’s first entry in the TD-SCDMA smartphone market as well as its first shipping baseband design win with a global tier-1 OEM. The successful engagement with Samsung lays the foundation for Spreadrum to engage with other global tier-1 manufacturers.
- Mitigated Price Pressure in 2.5G Markets with Improved Product Mix: With higher ASP products such as the ARM9-based SC6800H and TD product portfolio, Spreadtrum has been able to mitigate price pressure in the 2.5G feature phone market and maintain revenue growth and margin stability.
- Completed Majority Acquisition of WCDMA Vendor MobilePeak: Spreadtrum completed the acquisition of a majority 85.6% ownership stake in MobilePeak, in preparation for delivery of WCDMA/HSPA+ solutions by mid-2012.
(*) Samsung Galaxy S II TD-SCDMA version (i9108) has a Samsung S5PV310 Exynos 4210 dual-core ARM Cortex A9 1.2GHz application processor as well. Its street price currently is ¥ 3100 (US$ 489) vs. ¥ 3750 (US$ 592) list price.
Strategically important, other information regarding Spreadtrum:
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company” ), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced a strategic partnership with Sohu.com Inc., China’s leading online media, search, gaming, community and mobile service group. Through this partnership, Sohu has developed a mobile app store for Spreadtrum’s WRE (“Windows Runtime Environment”) platform for feature phones. Sohu will also use the app store, which supports applications both from Sohu and other mobile developers, to deliver rich Internet applications and services to China consumers.
Spreadtrum’s WRE platform is middleware for feature phones that enables dynamic loading and updating of applications post-sale, providing the same experience to consumers as smartphone handsets. Sohu has leveraged Spreadtrum’s platform to deliver a complete app store solution, including its related server-side operations. Spreadtrum’s WRE platform with Sohu’s app store solution has been rolled out in volume by one of China’s top ten design houses and is now integrated into Spreadtrum’s standard feature phone platform solution.
“Sohu.com has more than ten years of experience in delivering applications to more than one hundred million users, and is a leading provider of online applications and games in China,” said Dr. Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s president and CEO. “By partnering with Sohu.com, we bring together their core competency in Internet services with our strength in feature phone platforms, bringing smartphone and app store capability to the highest volume phone segment in China and emerging markets. This expands Sohu’s and other application developers’ reach to a larger mobile user base and transforms the traditional definition of feature phones.”
Dr. Charles Zhang, Sohu.com Inc’s Chairman and CEO, said: “The strategic cooperation with Spreadtrum is far-reaching in impact to the mobile internet industry. As a global top five mobile phone chip supplier, Spreadtrum’s customers reach a large user base interested in the mobile Internet experience. By cooperating with Spreadtrum, we can provide a variety of mobile internet services to this group of users, including web, video, microblogging, search, maps and other applications.”
Spreadtrum’s WRE platform with Sohu.com’s app store is now shipping in volume with Spreadtrum’s SC6800H chip to one of China’s top ten design houses. Spreadtrum expects shipments to grow over the coming quarters.
About Spreadtrum Communications, Inc.
About Sohu.com, Inc.
Sohu.com Inc. is China’s premier online brand and indispensable to the daily life of millions of Chinese, providing a network of web properties and community based/web 2.0 products which offer the vast Sohu user community a broad array of choices regarding information, entertainment and communication. Sohu has built one of the most comprehensive matrices of Chinese language web properties and proprietary search engines, consisting of the mass portal and leading online media destination. Sohu corporate services consist of online brand advertising on its matrix of websites as well as bid listing and home page on its in-house developed search directory and engine. Sohu also offers wireless value-added services such as news, information, music, ringtone and picture content sent over mobile phones. Sohu’s online game subsidiary, Changyou.com and its subsidiaries currently operate over 10 online games that includes in-house developed MMORPGs, such as Tian Long Ba Bu, one of the most popular online games in China, and Duke of Mount Deer, as well as Web-based games such as DDTank. Sohu.com, established by Dr. Charles Zhang, one of China’s internet pioneers, is in its fifteenth year of operation.
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced the introduction of the industry’s first dual-SIM dual-standby technology for TD-SCDMA mobile phones. Spreadtrum’s TD-SCDMA dual-SIM technology allows consumers to receive calls and texts, or browse data, on either number while the phone is turned on.
For consumers, dual-SIM TD-SCDMA provides flexibility in the choice of voice or data plan, allowing them to retain or use different China Mobile subscriptions for different purposes. Dual-SIM provides the added convenience of allowing for two “local” numbers, enabling users to place local-rated calls while traveling between provinces, without carrying two phones. And, it enables users to use phone and data functions from two different SIMs simultaneously, allowing users to optimize their voice or data usage to a preferred plan. Consumers are able to use the dual-SIM capability across both the 3G TD-SCDMA and the 2G GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks and use SIMs from different carriers in the same phone.
Spreadtrum’s dual-SIM dual-standby feature is the latest in its series of innovations for the China TD-SCDMA market, following the introduction of its SC8800G seriesof basebands on an advanced 40nm platform whose low power consumption delivers breakthrough standby and talk time performance relative to other solutions available in the market. Spreadtrum currently commands greater than 50% market share of TD-SCDMA baseband shipments, and its wireless communications solutions are being used in fixed wireless, feature phone and smartphone handsets sold by both global and domestic tier-1 brands.
“Dual-SIM enabled by a single baseband is a technology innovation that Spreadtrum was the first to develop for the 2.5G market,” said Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s president and chief executive officer. “Now, by bringing dual-SIM to TD-SCDMA, we are simplifying the 3G handset purchase decision by allowing consumers to take on new subscriptions while retaining their existing plans. We believe this attractive feature will contribute to further growth in TD-SCDMA handset shipment volumes.”
Dual-SIM dual-standby will be available as an option on Spreadtrum’s SC88xx series of TD-SCDMA basebands as well as future products, beginning in 4Q11.
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced that it has completed a majority acquisition of WCDMA solutions provider MobilePeak Holdings, Ltd. (“MobilePeak”) on September 30, 2011.
The acquisition of MobilePeak allows Spreadtrum to enter the global 3G and LTE markets with WCDMA/HSPA+ technology. MobilePeak’s 3G technology combined with Spreadtrum’s advanced 40nm baseband platform will enable Spreadtrum to deliver low-cost, high-performance WCDMA solutions for the global market and serve as a foundation for the Company’s next-generation multi-mode 3G/4G solutions. MobilePeak’s technology supports 3GPP standards through Release 7, including a full-rate 384Kbps modem and HSPA+ technology up to Category 14 at 21Mbps maximum downlink speed and 11Mbps maximum uplink speed. Spreadtrum anticipates that its first WCDMA baseband platform introduction leveraging MobilePeak’s technology will be in the first half of 2012, targeting consumers in emerging markets as well as 3G subscribers on the China Unicom network.
Spreadtrum increased its equity ownership in MobilePeak to approximately 85% as a result of the acquisition. Spreadtrum expects to purchase the remaining outstanding shares by year end. Spreadtrum expects the total cash consideration for the ordinary shares, including shares purchased on September 30, 2011 and shares that remain to be purchased, to be approximately US$5 million. Spreadtrum may also pay additional cash and grant restricted share units to MobilePeak team members as they meet certain product development milestones.
Li Liyou: Spreadtrum push WCDMA Smartphone chips next year [Oct 17, 2011]
(updated from Leo Li, Spreadtrum, WCDMA, smart phone chip, LTE as well)
Spreadtrum, Chairman and CEO of Li Liyou revealed, Spreadtrum launch [of] WCDMA Smartphone chips [is] planned for 2012, and will push the TD+WCDMA dual-mode chips [as well]. At the same time, Spreadtrum will from 2012 [do] research and development [of] 28-nanometer LTEchip products.
Prior to [this,] Spreadtrum launches [of] chip products are [were] mainly concentrated in the area of GSM and TD.
It is understood that, since 2003, [as the] Spreadtrum TD chip [was] put into research and development, and in 2005 developed the industry’s first TD-chip, nearly half of the existing R & D efforts [were] in the development of TD-related products.
Currently, Spreadtrum series chips and solutions [are] including: SC8800G for high-end feature phones and SC8801G for low-end feature phones, as well as the Modem chip SC8802G and SC8805G for the Android smart phones. The SC8800G, launched by Spreadtrum in early 2011, was the world’s first 40 nanometer TD baseband chip, this chip will enhance the development of telecommunications technology capabilities to the forefront of the industry. It is reported that shipments of this 40 nm chip were more than 10 million.
Push the TD+WCDMA dual-mode chips
Leo Li introduced [that] in the domestic TD field Spreadtrum’s market share has reached about 50%, its chip product line has been adopted by international brand mobile phone manufacturers, for example, Samsung GALAXY S II has the TD Spreadtrum baseband chip SC8802G.
Continue to increase input of the field of TD, Spreadtrum also plans to enter the field of WCDMA. Li Liyou revealed that “next year will have WCDMA Smartphone chip shipments. ”
“I communicate with overseas operators found that the other party want to have more expensive to call WCDMA handsets.” Li Li, Yu explained that in addition to better use of data services in addition, 3G networks are often ignored, another a little – a very high efficiency of call, the network capacity is much higher than 2.5G networks.
Based on this demand, that Leo Li, TD + WCDMA chip solution Spreadtrum will also become the mainstream of future product launches. In fact, Spreadtrum has recently introduced the industry’s first TD dual card dual standby mobile phone program to meet the users a mobile phone and TD, GSM / WCDMA networks twenty-two switch.
Based on this market demand, Li Liyou believes that TD+WCDMA chip solution will become the mainstream of of future product launches. In fact, Spreadtrum has recently launched the industry’s first TD dual card dual standby mobile phone program, [which] can meet the userusing a cell phone and switch between TD and GSM/WCDMA networks.
Plan to research and develop 28-nm LTE chips
Leo Li introduced the [plans for] products in the future planning. Spreadtrum will invest more in the field of smart phones. In addition, Spreadtrum also plans to launch in 2012 baseband and radio frequency in one single chip, and in the future to support TD-LTE/FDD LTE / TD-SCDMA / GSM [in a] multi-mode single-chip.
“The current 40-nanometer chips may not be able to meet the LTE network computation, therefore, Spreadtrum will from 2012 commence product research and development of 28-nanometer chips to meet future demand for the use of LTE products.” Li Liyou believes that world’s first 40 nm TD baseband chip has made the launch of Spreadtrum technology to go beyond the traditional European and US companies, but research and development [of] 28-nanometer chips will remain a major challenge [for] Spreadtrum.
“LTE’s development will also have some time [to happen]. Before this the way to ease pressure on the GSM network is to promote TD-SCDMA network.“ Li Liyou stressed that ”China Mobile has more than 600 million users, [with] an average of about two years for a machine there is nearly 200 million of replacement, [so] the market potential is huge. ”
It is understood that Spreadtrum TD-chip products are currently used in custom machines [by] operators and open market, and custom machines accounted for one third of the total market. “I hope that operators will cancel subsidies for customizing machine, and use this money as phone bill, subsidies to purchase TD cell phone users, allowing consumers to select the end product.” Li Liyou believes that this approach would eliminate a number of mobile phones, to make the healthy development of the community channel, and thus accelerate the TD in the open market instead of GSM phones.
Shipment growth continues with more than 50% market share and technology leadership in TD-SCDMA, with 40nm single-chip with TD-SCDMA/EDGE/GPRS/GSM, multi-media and power management features
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced that in 3Q 2011 it has met the last major milestone of a TD-SCDMA research and development grant awarded by China Mobile to the Company in 2009. This marks successful completion of the project and will enable the Company to recognize more than US$8 million in research and development grantsas an offset to operating expenses in the third quarter of 2011, including subsidies recognized from both the China Mobile and other government projects. Spreadtrum’s TD-SCDMA customers include more than 30 global and domestic tier-1 manufacturers and design houses who have introduced more than 72 feature phone and smartphone models in 2011 using Spreadtrum’s baseband solutions.
Spreadtrum now commands more than 50% market share of TD-SCDMA shipment volumes. Dr. Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s president and CEO commented, “We are the clear leader in the feature phone and fixed wireless segments of the TD-SCDMA market, which account for the majority of industry shipments so far this year. Our 40nm-based single-chips with TD-SCDMA/EDGE/GPRS/GSM, multi-media and power management features have enabled customers building handsets on our platform to achieve breakthrough standby and talk times, at a retail price point that is attractive to 3G handset buyers. We further expect to expand our footprint in the smartphone segment following the launch of our low-cost single-chip smartphone product.”
Dr. Li added, “In addition to today’s news and in response to recent shareholder inquiries, we would like to provide additional clarification on our corporate structure. Our primary operations in China are conducted through a wholly foreign owned enterprise (WFOE), distinct from the variable interest entity (VIE) structures that are common in the China Internet sector and that have been the subject of recent press speculation with regards to possible PRC or US government review. There is no active investigation that we are aware of by either the China government or the US Department of Justice of our corporate structure or accounting practices, which adhere to conservative interpretation of US GAAP.”
Spreadtrum’s SC8802 Shipping in Newest Samsung GALAXY SII Smartphone for China Mobile Subscribers
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company” ), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced that its newest TD-SCDMA baseband chip, the SC8802G, is shipping in Samsung’s top-of-the-line GALAXY S II smartphone targeting China Mobile subscribers.
Designed with 40nm CMOS silicon technology, the SC8802G is the newest chip in Spreadtrum’s SC88xxG series for the TD-SCDMA market. Spreadtrum’s advanced 40nm platform delivers groundbreaking levels of performance and integration while simultaneously reducing power consumption, delivering standby and talk times that are a first in TD-SCDMA 3G. Spreadtrum’s SC8802G enables TD-HSUPA, TD-SCDMA as well as GSM, GPRS and EDGE operation and supports TD-HSDPA at 2.8Mbps, TD-HSUPA at 2.2Mbps. In combination with Spreadtrum’s RF transceiver, the SR3200LS, which is also shipping in the Samsung GALAXY S II, the SC8802G achieves a small modem footprint of less than 530mm2 enabling slim, sleek designs.
“We are honored to be selected by Samsung as a TD-SCDMA baseband chip supplier,” said Dr. Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s president and CEO. “We are seeing accelerating growth in the TD-SCDMA market as handset features and performance and network coverage align with consumer preference and expectations. Handsets such as Samsung’s GALAXY S II will raise the bar in terms of what consumers can expect from a 3G experience.”
Spreadtrum Achieves More than 50% Market Share, Sets New Standard for Standby and Talk Times in TD-SCDMA
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc., (Nasdaq: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced that it has achieved a leadership position in China’s TD-SCDMA market. TD-SCDMA is the China 3G standard adopted by China’s largest telecom operator China Mobile. Spreadtrum’s low-cost, high performance baseband solutions based on its advanced 40nm platform have enabled the Company to secure design wins with both tier-1 OEM handset manufacturers and independent design houses serving this market, with significant growth in the first half of 2011 resulting from shipments in the feature phone segment.
“In the first half of 2011, Spreadtrum secured more than 50% market share of TD-SCDMA shipments,” said Kevin Wang, Director, China Research of analyst firm IHS iSuppli. Spreadtrum expects TD-SCDMA uptake to accelerate in the second half of 2011, bringing the overall market from 34 million units shipped in 2010 to more than 50 million units shipment this year.
“Our advanced 40nm platform enables us to deliver a superior 3G experience on handsets,” said Dr. Leo Li, president and CEO of Spreadtrum. “The low power consumption of our TD-SCDMA baseband solutions enables up to 15 hours talk time and 17 days standby time off of 1000mAh batteries.”
Spreadtrum further expects that shifts in China Mobile’s purchasing strategy will help drive faster growth. As more phone models have become available, China Mobile’s purchasing has shifted from central procurement tenders, in which the head office negotiates for certain models and volumes, to purchasing through local distribution channels. “Local purchasing enables regions to order handset models that are best matched to local consumer preferences, price points and styles,” added Dr. Li. “The ability of consumers to purchase 3G handsets with an attractive user experience, feature set and design, at close to EDGE handset prices, is accelerating market uptake of TD-SCDMA handsets.”
Acquisition expands patent and product portfolio with advanced mobile TV technology
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase Telegent Systems, Inc. (“Telegent”), a provider of semiconductor and software solutions for the reception of live, broadcast television on mobile phones. Spreadtrum does not expect significant impact to either its cash position or operating expenses as a result of the transaction.
“Broadcast mobile TV is a popular feature with consumers in emerging markets, which is a target market segment for Spreadtrum and one in which we are experiencing rapid growth,” said Dr. Leo Li, president and chief executive officer of Spreadtrum. “The acquisition of Telegent enhances the value proposition we can deliver to the supply chain serving this market segment from handset manufacturer to end market brand and accelerates our international footprint.”
Telegent’s technology portfolio delivers more than 70 patents granted or pending and a product line consisting of analog mobile TV ICs, hybrid analog/digital mobile TV ICs, mobile TV internal antenna technology, TV player software, and entertainment services software that enables the delivery of applications and advertising to handsets post-sale. Telegent’s newly introduced product line, the TLG12xx series, introduces new innovations to the mobile TV market, including integrated internal antenna technology and a single-chip analog mobile TV receiver with the lowest power consumption and the lowest external bill of materials. Following the acquisition, Spreadtrum will explore integration opportunities with the basebandthat deliver further performance and cost benefits.
In connection with the acquisition, approximately twenty hardware and software engineers from Telegent’s Shanghai office will join Spreadtrum. The transaction has been approved by the Spreadtrum and Telegent boards of directors and is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of Telegent stockholders.
Questions and answers regarding Spreadtrum’s acquisition of Telegent can be found at: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?item=UGFyZW50SUQ9MTAwMTk3fENoaWxkSUQ9LTF8VHlwZT0z&t=1
About Telegent Systems, Inc.
Telegent Systems is a fabless semiconductor company that enables the reception of live, free-to-air analog and digital broadcast television in mobile handsets and other portable consumer devices. Telegent’s television-on-a-chip solutions solve the long-standing technical challenges that have precluded mobile reception of analog broadcast TV, enabling manufacturers and operators to benefit from the convergence of broadcast TV with mobile and portable devices. Telegent’s products are the most widely sold broadcast television solutions for mobile handsets in the world. For more information, visit www.telegent.com.
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced the introduction of a high performance multimedia mobile phone solution based on ARM9 CPU processor, the SC6800H. This product, which features enhanced application and multimedia processing capabilities, is designed to meet customers’ growing demand for video, photo, music, games and other entertainment requirements within the mid-end multimedia mobile phone market.
The SC6800H is more than twice as fast as ARM7 based chips, and its ARM9EJ-S processor core with multimedia and GPU engine provides an enhanced user experience in mid-end feature phone. The solution supports JAVA, Internet access, GPS navigation, mobile stocks, MSN/QQ and many other popular applications in addition to a High-definition video player, and a 5 megapixel camera. It enables HVGA screen resolution with a fashionable user interface, such as the 3D UI and Flash UI, further improving the user experience. In terms of communication, the SC6800H integrates multi-SIM card engine and controller, which enable Dual-SIM standby, Triple-SIM standby and Quad-SIM standby solutions in a set of baseband and RF chipset. Furthermore, the SC6800H provides interfaces for a number of mainstream peripheral components such as Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and analog TV.
Dr. Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s President and CEO said, “In line with our commitment to delivering innovative technology in order to help customers differentiate their products, the SC6800H provides handset manufacturers a powerful and stable mobile phone solution that we believe will be an attractive and essential platform for the emerging mobile business. Along with our other pipeline products that offer enhanced multimedia features, the SC6800H is accelerating the growth of feature phone market, enabling our customers to launch more products with unique features to capitalize on increasing demand for mobile handset business, mobile internet applications, and mobile games/entertaining business.”
First 40nm baseband chip to support China’s 3G standard
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPRD; “Spreadtrum”) and TSMC (TWSE: 2330, NYSE: TSM) today unveiled their achievement on the first commercialized 40nm Time Division – Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA) basebandprocessor. First time silicon success for this baseband processor was achieved by the two companies jointly optimizing design, process and manufacturing. The chip is in initial production at Fab 12, one of TSMC’s GIGAFAB(TM) facilities in Taiwan.
The new processor supports TD-SCDMA and other telecommunication 3.75G to 2G specifications including High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA), Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). It also features up to a 2.8Mbps bandwidth that is more than one hundred times faster than the 2G standard.
The baseband processor leverages TSMC’s 40nm low power (40LP) process technology to extend battery lifetime in mobile telecommunication. The 40LPprocess also supports other leakage-sensitive applications such as application processor, portable consumer and wireless connectivity devices.
Dr. Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s President and CEO said, “40nm process technology is a critical element to Spreadtrum’s next-generation product portfolio. The success of the world’s first commercialized 40nm baseband processor demonstrates our design and time-to-production ability to deliver the cutting-edge technology in the 3G communication industry. TSMC is the clear foundry leader in 40nm process technology. With its excellent technical advantages and strategic support for Spreadtrum since 2003, TSMC ensures the quality and performance of our chips, which allows us to provide stable and superior products to our customers.”
“Spreadtrum is to be commended for bringing to production the first 40nm 3G baseband chip to meet China’s TD-SCDMA specification,” said Jason Chen, senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing. “The achievement of this milestone underscores TSMC’s ongoing role as the foundation for logic IC innovation, including that of China’s IC design companies.”
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPRD; “Spreadtrum” or the “Company”), a leading fabless semiconductor provider in China with advanced technology in both 2G and 3G wireless communications standards, today announced the world’s first 40nm low power TD-HSPA/TD-SCDMA multi-mode communication baseband processor, the SC8800G. The new product was announced during a technology forum jointly held by Spreadtrum, China Semiconductor Industry Association, Qingdao Hisense Communication Co., Ltd., HuaweiDevice Co., Ltd. and Shenyang New Postcom Equipment Co., Ltd. at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China. At the forum, Spreadtrum successfully demonstrated its latest commercial mobile handsets based on the SC8800G.
Designed with 40nm CMOS silicon technology, the SC8800G achieves groundbreaking levels of performance and integration while simultaneously reducing power consumption, lowering overall costs and meeting the need for next generation communication experience. Spreadtrum SC8800G enables TD-HSUPA, TD-SCDMA, GSM, GPRS and EDGE operation and supports TD-HSDPA at 2.8Mbps, TD-HSUPA at 2.2Mbps. This product will enable the price of TD-SCDMA mobile terminals to be close to that of 2.5G products. At the same time, it will offer a reliable platform for various 3G services and will play an integral role in driving the development of TD-SCDMA, TD-LTE and 4G technology. The TD-HSPA/TD-SCDMA multi-mode mobile phones developed based on SC8800G have already passed the network access testing of Telecommunication Bureau of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the market entry testingof China Mobile, meeting all commercial standards.
SC8800G achieves great speed advancement while significantly reducing power consumption. The chip is an ideal solution for customers to develop competitive low power consumption mobile handsets. Furthermore, this world’s first commercial 40nm low power TD-HSPA/TD-SCDMA multi-mode communication baseband processor will contribute to the development of Intelligent City, Internet of Things, Mobile Internet and the integration of telecommunications networks, cable TV networks and Computer network in China.
Dr. Leo Li, Spreadtrum’s President and CEO said, “As the inventor of the world’s first commercial 40nm low power TD-HSPA/TD-SCDMA multi-mode communication baseband processor, we are proud of our cutting-edge technology in 3G communication standards, our design capability in advanced technology and our world-class engineering team. The commercial TD-HSPA/TD-SCDMA mobile phones developed based on the SC8800G are representative of the progression from ‘made in China’ to ‘invented in China’. China’s IC design companies are presented with tremendous opportunities as the country undergoes a major upgrade in industry and economy development. Spreadtrum is dedicated to the continuous technology innovation in order to capitalize on these opportunities and play an instrumental role in the growth of China’s IC industry.”
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc., a leading fabless semiconductor company that develops baseband and RF processor solutions for the wireless communications market (hereinafter referred to as “Spreadtrum”, Nasdaq Stock code: SPRD), and Qingdao Hisense Communication Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of a world leading provider of flat panel TVs, household appliances and mobile communications (hereinafter referred to as “Hisense Communication”), jointly launched the world’s first TD-SCDMA feature phone — Hisense N51 — with retail price below 1000 RMB. Hisense N51 is the only affordable TD-SCDMA mobile phone that supports CMMB digital TV among all existing 3G phones that are available through China Mobile’s “TD-SCDMA Terminal Special Incentive Fund Project” program. With the increasing demand for affordable 3G phones in the Chinese market, the launch of Hisense N51 will greatly accelerate the adoption of the TD-SCDMA platform and further enrich TD-SCDMA terminal products and services.
Hisense N51 was jointly developed by Spreadtrum and Hisense in a highly collaborative technical partnership. Executive Vice President of Hisense Communication, Ms. Wenlin Yang, said: “Hisense and Spreadtrum share a long history of co-operation. Partnering with Spreadtrum, we successfully won the bid of ‘thousand-yuan 3G mobile phones’ project of China Mobile’s ‘TD-SCDMA Terminal Special Incentive Fund Project.’ Through our six-month joint effortsand Spreadtrum’s very competitive TD-SCDMA and CMMB solutions, the Hisense N51 was introduced. The excellent localized technical support and quick customer service response from Spreadtrum’s team have not only greatly shortened the time to launch Hisense N51, but also ensured that Hisense TD-SCDMA products will be competitive in the 3G phone market. Hisense has always been at the forefront of the TD-SCDMA industry. At present, China Mobile has completed the construction of a national network, by investing huge resources to support the end-products, especially affordable G3 handsets. Compounded with its huge customer base and mature terminal operating experience, I believe, in 2010, China’s TD users will show explosive growth and our partnership with Spreadtrum will move further in the next level.”
President and CEO of Spreadtrum Communications, Inc., Dr. Leo Li, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Hisense to develop affordable TD-SCDMA products targeting China’s 3G market. Hisense has an extensive research and development experience and leading technology, as well as a close partnership with Spreadtrum. Spreadtrum provides highly integrated TD-SCDMA/HSDPA/GSM/GPRS/EDGE baseband chip SC8800H and RF chip QS3200, which effectively reduce the cost of development and manufacturing of Hisense Communication products. Therefore, Hisense Communication is able to introduce cost-effective handsets such as N51 by targeting the Chinese 3G market quickly to meet the needs of consumers. Spreadtrum CMMB mobile TV chip SC6600Vprovides Hisense N51 with vast application space. Particularly, Hisense N51 is currently the world’s only 1000 RMB level TD-SCDMA phone that supports CMMB.”
Chief Scientist of Spreadtrum Communications, Inc., Dr. Xiaojian Dong, also remarked: “Spreadtrum has maintained a close cooperative partnership with mobile terminal manufacturers during the implementation process of China Mobile’s ‘TD-SCDMA Terminal Special Incentive Fund Project.’ Under the guidance of China Mobile, we jointly overcame difficulties and achieved our goals. Hisense N51 has successfully passed China Mobile’s testing, which marked Spreadtrum’s great leap forward in phone platform, TD-SCDMA/GSM wireless performance and 2/3G mutual operation and stability. The outstanding results fully confirmed that the performance and maturity of Spreadtrum’s TD-SCDMA solutions is at the forefront of its industry.
About Hisense N51:
Hisense N51 uses Spreadtrum’s highly integrated SC8800H-baseband, QS3200-RF and SC6600V-CMMB chips to support TD-SCDMA/HSDPA/GSM/GPRS/EDGE and mobile TV functionality. Hisense N51 is based on a slim design with a thickness of only 13.3mm and comes with a 2.4-inch screen and a 2 million pixel (HD) camera. Furthermore, Hisense N51 supports TD-SCDMA/HSDPA high-speed data services, TD-SCDMA/GSM dual-mode, WWW/WAP browser for fast Internet access, and has built-in Fetion, music player, cell phone securities, mobile maps, MMS, DM, and PIM, etc. Hisense N51 has a maximum downlink speed of up to 1.6Mbps and uplink speed of up to 384Kbps. For the function of CMMB mobile digital TV, Hisense N51 can receive and send TV broadcasting and communications signals simultaneously without mutual interference and provides maximum TV viewing experience with TD-SCDMA mobile digital TV service.
For more information on China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting, please visit http://www.cmmb.org.cn .
Lenovo Mobile Communication Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Lenovo Mobile”) launched the world’s first TD-SCDMA standard-based OPhone smart phones – Lenovo O1, with immediate sales in all local markets in mainland China. The phone is based on Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as “Spreadtrum”, Nasdaq: SPRD) TD-SCDMA solution, and supports China Mobile OPhone OS smart phone operating system.
Spreadtrum and Lenovo Mobile, in a highly collaborative technical partnership, jointly developed Lenovo O1. This new handset runs on the China Mobile led developed Intelligent Terminal software platform – the OPhone platform. Lenovo 01 uses Spreadtrum’s TD-SCDMA/HSDPA / GSM / GPRS / EDGE baseband chip SC8800S and radio frequency (“RF”) chip QS3200. It is currently the first 3G OPhone-based smart phone that supports TD-SCDMA, combining China Mobile’s integrated applications, openness, comprehensive entertainment, business applications and other major features for the mobile Internet. Lenovo O1 is a leading example of successful partnerships among key corporations targeting China’s TD-SCDMA market.
As the world’s first TD-SCDMA OPhone-based smart phone, Lenovo O1 adopted Spreadtrum TD-SCDMA chip technology to support GSM / GPRS / EDGE / HSDPAand meets the demand for convergence of video, interactive e-mail and web browsing among others. The introduction of TD-SCDMA OPhone-based smart phones, represented by Lenovo O1, should greatly push forward the development cycle for China’s TD-SCDMA devices.
Regarding Lenovo O1, Spreadtrum President and CEO, Dr. Leo Li said: “The newly introduced Lenovo O1 is an integration of advanced technology and in-depth research work and an outstanding achievement of the intensive cooperation between Lenovo Mobile and China Mobile. Spreadtrum provides highly integrated TD-SCDMA/HSDPA/GSM/GPRS/EDGE baseband chips SC8800S and RF chip QS3200, which fully meets the functional and business needs of the operators, while effectively reducing product development and manufacturing costs. Leveraging Lenovo Mobile’s excellent technology platform, O1 products possess an outstanding industrial design with an attractive look and feel at a far smaller thickness than other current available smart phone products. We believe that Lenovo O1 has undoubtedly opened the highly potential Chinese 3G market for future and further developments. The personalization and openness features of OPhone will set the standards for mainstream development of future mobile phones.”
Lenovo Mobile president and CEO Yan Lv, said: “We are very happy to work with Spreadtrum. Lenovo O1 is the result of complete independent research and development by Chinese companies. Spreadtrum provides Lenovo O1 a very competitive TD-SCDMA solution in both baseband and RF, with highly integrated features at an outstanding cost structure. Additionally, the localized services of Spreadtrum team greatly shortened the time for Lenovo O1 to enter the market. Leveraging Lenovo Mobile’s core business product development and methodology, O1 seamlessly integrates features of PC and cell phone. Its introduction will propel the China Telecommunication Industry towards the new 3G mobile Internet era. We also believe that, fully utilizing the 3G wireless Internet network, Lenovo O1, after its entrance into the market, will deliver enhanced mobile Internet user experience to end consumers.”
About OPhone OS:
OPhone OS uses Linux as its system kernel and Google Android as its reference. It is compatible with Google Android platform, integrating flexible and efficient Java application framework. OpenGL ES, SGL and other advanced 3D/2D graphics processing system has been applied in its design, as well as powerful multimedia systems based on PacketVideo’s and the open-source Webkit browser engine. OPhone OS fully draws on good user experience of mainstream operating system, providing a complete set of telephony solutions and a variety of mobile data operation solutions.
About Lenovo Mobile:
Lenovo Mobile Communication Technology Ltd. (hereafter referred to as “Lenovo Mobile”), established in 2002, is a well known player in the Chinese mobile phone industry that specializes in the R&D, production and marketing of mobile phones. Lenovo Mobile is dedicated to provide “Stylish, Simple Innovative & High Quality” products value-added service which will satisfy the personalized needs and enhance the joy of mobile communication. Relying on its independent R&D and powerful sales channels, Lenovo Mobile has become a fundamental influence in the Chinese handset industry. For more information, please visit www.lenovomobile.com
Suggested preliminary reading: $199 Kindle Fire: Android 2.3 with specific UI layer and cloud services [Sept 29 – Nov 13, 2011]
Update (when neither up or down the market is an option for the company):
Acer Likely to Withdraw From Tablet PC Market [Dec 28, 2011]
Routed by Apple Inc. in the tablet PC competition, the Taiwan-based Acer Inc., one of the world’s top five PC suppliers by market shares, has intended to disband its touch business group in January, 2012, indicating its withdrawal from the competitive landscape to follow the footsteps of HP and Research In Motion.
Headed by Acer’s corporate president Jim Wong, the touch business group was set up in April 2011 to develop and promote tablet PCs and smartphones, regarded as the company’s best promising business unit then.
However, the momentary impression has proven unable to secure the business unit an expected success, as the company, after struggling with the sluggishness of tablet PC sales in the past months, is determined to dissolve the unit starting in January, 2012. Of over 300 workers of the touch business unit, 150, mostly R&D engineers, will be transferred to other business divisions, and only 100 will be retained, with the remainder likely to be laid off, according to industry insiders.
Although the disbandment has yet to be publicized, Acer directors have confirmed that the company has recently merged its Android tablet business, which originally belonged to the touch business group, into its global logistics center management, saying that the once-promising division now exists in name only.
With the touch division to be streamlined, market observers believe that Acer, which just halved its tablet PC sales projection to the range of only 2.5 million to 3 million units from 5 million units optimistically set right after the division was established, is likely to leave the challenging market that has been dominated by Apple with its iPad.
Although global PC makers have eagerly ventured into tablet PC business in the wake of iPad’s success over the past year, many of them, however, have proven unmatchable with Apple in the competition, with HP and RIM already out of the market. Taiwanese contract manufacturers, such as Quanta Computer Inc. and Inventect Corp., have also been jeopardized by customer’s withdrawal from the segment, forced to cut their employees as a result.
The Kindle Fire Is On Fire: Amazon Expected To Ship 3.9 Million This Quarter [Seeking Alpha, Dec 2, 2011]
The Kindle Fire looks like a bona fide hit right out of the gate. New estimates from IHS iSuppli have Amazon.com (AMZN) shipping 3.9 million Kindle Fires this quarter, which would make it the No. 2 tablet after the iPad 2 (with an estimated 18.6 million shipments). The Kindle Fire will become the No. 1 Android tablet by a wide margin (the Samsung (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy Tab is the next biggest, with an estimated 1.4 million shipments).
To put this 3.9 million number in context, just remember that the very first quarter Apple sold the iPad back in the September quarter of 2010, it sold 3.3 million. So the Kindle Fire sold more in its first quarter than the iPad did in its first quarter on the market. Of course, Apple sold 7.3 million iPads the second quarter it was on the market, which was the 2010 holiday quarter.
Quanta shipments of Kindle Fire reach 3-4 million units [Dec 2, 2011]
Shipments of 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet PCs from Quanta Computer to Amazon have reached 3-4 million units, according to industry watchers. However, Quanta declined to comment.
The sources said Amazon has continued to increase its orders for Kindle Fire and aims to see total OEM Kindle Fire shipments reach five million units by the end of December or early January.
Wintek, a major supplier of touch panels for Kindle Fire, has recently raised its internal forecast of shipments to Amazon. Industry sources have estimated that Wintek will ship about 3-3.5 million touch panels for Kindle Fire before January.
However, some makers in the supply chain have built up inventory of needed parts and components steadily, and OEM Quanta has also kept its shipments regular, for the sake of avoiding over stockpiling inventory in case there is a reverse in order visibility, the sources pointed out.
The out-of-the-market case #1: White-box players in China quitting tablet PC market [Dec 8, 2011]
As non-Apple tablet PC players are dropping their tablet PC prices to compete against Kindle Fire, white-box players in China are starting to quit the tablet PC market and can only wait for the rise of the next innovative device to appear in the market.
Since China-based Lenovo is offering its tablet PCs at a price of CNY1,000 (US$158), several large white-box players have quickly dropped their tablet PC prices to help clear their inventory, while several white-box players that offer tablet PCs at below CNY800 are even preparing to sell their devices at cost and then quit the market.
With the launch of Android 4.0 and Nvidia Tegra 3, first-tier brand vendors have been dropping their tablet PC prices to compete for market share, especially Lenovo, which has recently dropped its 7-inch 16GB LaPad A1 from CNY2,500 [$US393] originally to less than CNY1,400 [$US220] and its entry-level 2GB model is offered at CNY1,000 [$US157], cheaper than most of the large white-box players’ models.
Since Lenovo is stronger in the retail channel, while offering warranty and its products have basic quality, these advantages are all piling strong pressure upon white-box players.
Some China-based ODMs pointed out that their orders from white-box players have dropped sharply by about 30-50% with several clients clearing their inventory by dropping prices; however, since they still cannot outmatch first-tier players, some of them have already decided to temporary quit the tablet PC market.
As the situation may become worse, the ODMs expect that more than 70% of the existing white-box players could quit the market by the first quarter of 2012.
Note: White-box is a term often used to describe computer makers who are not the well-known name brands, but rather B- or C-tier players.
The down-the-market case #1: Players drop tablet PC prices to compete against Kindle Fire [Nov 24, 2011]
Several tablet PC players including RIM, High Tech Computer (HTC), Lenovo, and ViewSonic, have dropped their 7-inch tablet PC prices to compete against Amazon’s Kindle Fire, priced at US$199, according to sources from channel retailers.
The sources pointed out that RIM has recently cooperated with Best Buy to offer its 7-inch 16GB PlayBook at a price of US$199, down from US$499 originally. Meanwhile, the price of HTC’s 7-inch Android 2.3-based Flyer tablet PC has dropped to US$299, Lenovo’s 7-inch A1 tablet PC to US$199, and ViewSonic’s 7-inch Viewbook 730 to US$169.
Meanwhile, several China-based white-box players are also offering their 7-inch tablet at prices as low as US$75.
In addition to the 16GB model, RIM also dropped its 32GB model from US$599 to US$299.
Since part of the reason consumers buy Kindle Fire is because of its strong content support, even though other brand vendors are trying to attract consumers by lowering their prices, they may not be able to achieve the same sales results as Amazon.
The sources also revealed that several vendors are already in talking with upstream suppliers hoping to develop a tablet PC that costs less than US$199, but since there is still not yet a suitable solution to accomplish such a goal, most of the brand vendors are halting their 7-inch tablet PC projects.
The out-of-the-market case #2: Dell kills off its last Android tablet in the US [Dec 6, 2011]
Dell has taken its 7-inch Streak Android tablet out of commission, according to its website. While some retail sites still have stock, the company no longer offers the Streak for sale from its own website and will no longer produce it. The Dell Android tablet species is officially extinct in the US.
The fadeout of the 7-inch Streak follows the disappearance of the 5-inch Streak in August, when it failed to corner (read: create) the 5-inch tablet market. The 7-inch Streak went on sale in January and was priced at $200 with a T-Mobile contract, but has failed to generate any significant interest in the last year. The only Dell tablet still in production is the 10-inch Streak, sold in China.
From here, Dell will move on to making Windows 8 tablets when the operating system launches next year. Speaking at the Dell World 2011 conference, Michael Dell, the company’s CEO, said that “the Android market has not developed the expectations [Dell] would have had.”
Lenovo is reaffirming its commitment to its Android-based tablets – at least for now – in the wake of the demise of Dell (NSDQ:Dell)’s Streak 7 Android tablet. Dell nixed the 7-inch tablet on Tuesday, posting a note on the Streak 7’s landing page saying that the product, unfortunately, is “no longer available for sale.”
Dell declined to comment on exactly why it discontinued the tablet, which was its last Android-based device on the U.S. market.
Many reports, however, are suggesting that Dell pulled the reins on the Streak 7 to start transitioning from Android-based tablets to Windows 8-based tablets, upon the new OS’ release next year. Dell declined to confirm the move, but other PC makers, such as Lenovo, have expressed their commitment to Google’s OS – even if just for now.
“Our tablet strategy today is an Android operating system,” said Chris Frey, vice president of North America Commercial Channels at Lenovo in an interview with CRN. “As operating systems evolve next year and new operating systems become available, we’ll make decisions on the hardware and the operating system that will go on that hardware as we get closer. Right now [Android] is the operating system we have and are driving in the market.”
Lenovo designed the ThinkPad Tablet with business users in mind. The optional pen accessory and the preloaded software are options business users may appreciate. During our tests, we felt the ThinkPad tablet was great for taking notes, surfing the web, checking email, and many other daily tasks that are typical of a business user.
Battery life with the ThinkPad Tablet is a bit of a mixed bag. Although the tablet is rated at up to five days of use, this longevity is dependent upon the user putting the tablet into suspend mode each time he or she is finished using the tablet. Even then, battery life is sure to vary greatly depending on how much you use the tablet. We would expect that many users may place the tablet on their desk to take a phone call or deal with another interruption and forget to press the power button. In doing so, you’ll suffer a considerable hit in terms of battery life.
In terms of connectivity, the ThinkPad Tablet has a lot going for it. Not only does the ThinkPad Tablet have a full-size USB port, but it also offers a card reader, microUSB port, mini HDMI port, a ThinkPad Tablet dock connector, and headphone jack. Most tablets on the market today offer considerably fewer ports, so this is an area where the ThinkPad Tablet really shines.
IT departments will also appreciate the encryption and remote wipe capabilities of the ThinkPad Tablet. The optional pen accessory is definitely a nice add on that gives the tablet some additional functionality, and we found ourselves using it often during our evaluation process. The biggest drawback to this tablet is its battery managment. Assuming you’re religious about pressing the power button each time you’re finished using the tablet, it won’t be a problem. If you’re like us and tend to forget however, you’ll want to keep a charging cord nearby at all times. Regardless, we feel the ThinkPad Tablet is a great tablet for business users who want some of the added capabilities and software that Lenovo includes. It’s a full-featured device that offers a tablet experience not found in many others on the market right now.
- NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz ARM SoC w/ NVIDIA graphics
- 1GB of RAM, 16 – 64GB Storage
- Lots of ports: mini HDMI, USB 2.0, micro USB, dock connector
- Full size media card reader
- Relatively short battery life in idle mode
- Pen is not included (costs $30)
[Price: 16GB: $499, 32GB: $569, 64GB: $669]
Apple iPad Sales Slowing as Amazon Lights Kindle Fire [Dec 7, 2011]
Since launching in 2010, Apple’s iPad has been the global leader in tablets. But since Amazon’s first table, the all-new low-priced Kindle Fire came out in November Apple’s dominance may be sagging. In a new analyst note, Shaw Wu of the brokerage firm Stern Ageesees iPad sales as a “little light” in the current quarter.
Wu assigns the blame for light iPad sales to stiff competition, namely from Amazon’s Kindle Fire, priced at $199 while the starting price for the Apple iPad is $499. He also notes that some Apple customers are buying the MacBook Air instead of an iPad, but in lowering his estimate for iPad sales in the quarter from to 13.5 million units from 15 million units, it’s clear the Kindle Fire is the leading culprit.
[from: Apple’s iPad sales look light amid Kindle Fire, MacBook Air popularity [Dec 7, 2011]
Wu wrote in a research note:
In the Mac business, we are seeing particular strength in the MacBook Air, arguably the best ultra-mobile PC on the market. Last but not least, iPads appear a little light of expectations due in part to competition from Amazon’s Kindle Fire but also as some users opt for a more full-featured MacBook Air.]
IHS iSuppli estimates Amazon will sell nearly four million Kindle Fire tablets by the end of the year— not bad for a product that didn’t ship until mid-November. Reviewers note that the Kindle Fire isn’t the Apple iPad — it is short on apps and isn’t known for content creation abilities. Yet it seems to serve at a low price what most tablet buyers want — a handy device good for watching videos and Web browsing and content reading on the go.
It’s not like Apple’s iPad dominance is going away, either. If the company sells 13.5 million tablets in the quarter as Wu estimates, the Cupertino, Ca.-based company still has a global leader on its hands. But the Kindle Fire has shown out of the gate that a device can ably compete with the iPad after others like the HP TouchPad and the BlackBerryPlayBook failed.
Wu isn’t the only analyst who thinks the Amazon Kindle Fire is dipping into Apple iPad dominance, either. Another new report from Michael Walkley of Canaccord Genuitysees the same trend.
“With our expectations for a new iPad launch during the March quarter leading to potentially lower inventory levels combined with increased competition from the $200 Kindle Fire,” Walkley said in a note, “we have slightly lowered our December quarter iPad estimates from 14M to 13M units.”
But it’s interesting to note that some analysts don’t think Apple is overly concerned with the low-priced Kindle.
“If anything, we believe that Apple is not too concerned about the low-priced entrants,” wrote Mark Moskowitz, an analyst with J.P. Morgan, in a Dec. 2 research note. “Recall, it has been our view that low-priced, reduced feature-set entrants, such as the Kindle Fire, are soap box derby devices stuck between a tablet and an e-reader.”
iPad feeling some heat from Amazon’s Kindle Fire [Dec 1, 2011]
After hitting retailers on November 15 at $199, Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet is already outselling the iPad at Best Buy. Sorting tablets by the top sellers at the Best Buy Web Siteshows the Fire in first place followed by the 16GB Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 at $499 coming in second. A range of other iPad flavors from different carriers are scattered throughout the top 40 tablets.
Amazon itself shows the Kindle Fire as the top-selling tableton its site, with the 16GB iPad further down the list. But that seems a less accurate gauge of popularity since Fire buyers may be more likely to pick up the tablet directly from Amazon.
Even before the Fire launched a little more than two weeks ago, the tablet was proving to be a big seller, racking up a huge number of preorders. Pegging the Fire as one of the hottest consumer devices among holiday buyers, research firm DisplaySearch recently increased its shipment projectionsfor the current quarter.
DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim now expects Amazon to ship up to 6 million Fire tablets this season, up from 4 million previously.
Another analyst also sees the Fire giving the iPad some competition, but to a lesser degree.
In an investor note out today, J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said he’d trimmed his fourth-quarter sales estimates for Apple’s tablet to 13 million from 13.3 million previously. Moskowitz attributed the lower forecast mostly to more limited growth in production but also pointed to the Fire.
“To a lesser extent, the Amazon Kindle Fire’s better-than-expected momentum with more price sensitive consumers is a factor, too,” the analyst wrote.
Of course, Apple is certainly in no danger of losing its current dominance in the tablet market. Moskowitz believes that over time the iPad will actually gain more traction in the business and educational markets. And despite the hot holiday demand for the Fire, the analyst doesn’t see Amazon’s current version of its tablet as a strong enough competitor over the long haul.
“We think that for any vendor to wrestle momentum longer-term from Apple, a fully loaded offering is a must, and here, the current revision of the Kindle Fire falls short,” Moskowitz wrote. “We think that, over time, consumers may come away disappointed with the Kindle Fire’s lack of functionality and smaller screen size. In our view, the Kindle Fire is the current Netbook of the media tablet market. The bigger question is whether the Fire evolves into a bona fide tablet in its next-generation release.”
As a consequence of the above two articles one observer dares to note that:
Not even Apple understands the tablet market [Dec 7, 2011]
Just last quarter, iPhone sales took a big dip. Apple (AAPL) was fine as iPads saved the day. This quarter could turn out to be the complete opposite.
If Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu is right, iPad sales will be lower than expected because of the popularity of both Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle Fire table and Apple’s own MacBook Air, as ZDNet’s Larry Dignon notes. It’s a competition sandwich that underscores how little, still, anyone in the tablet market, including Apple, thoroughly understands the dynamics and what people ultimately want to do with the devices.
Initial trials are over
Not that the iPad — or other tablets — will whimper and crawl to a corner. Far from it. But given what products that Wu thinks are drawing attention, Kindle Fire and MacBook Air, you have to question whether anyone knows, yet, what consumers want from tablets, particularly as we’ve yet to see any solid numbers (and are unlikely to) for Kindle sales.
The presumption is that Kindle Fire snags the price-sensitive and Amazon fans. The MacBook Air switch is by people who need a lot more than what the iPad can deliver. That throws open a lot of assumptions. What percentage of buyers expected a tablet to be a media access device only? How many realized that they needed more than an on-screen keyboard? What price points will maximize sales?
For most of the Android tablet vendors, the answer to “What do consumers want?” has been, “Something other than what you sell.” Maybe Apple has all the answers, but even that seems pretty unlikely. Last quarter, unit sales were up. This month, maybe down. Steve Jobs was certain that a 7-inch tablet couldn’t see any success, but Amazon seems to be disproving that.
It’s time for everyone to take a step back and reconsider the basic questions. Maybe talk to a lot of customers, do some usability studies, and follow individuals around (with their permission) to better understand how they use the devices. Only some determined research is going to get beyond the seat-of-the-pants navigation that the tech industry seems to heartily embrace so often.
The Kindle Fire may “vaporize” the market for every for-profit tablet maker except Apple
While Amazon’s Kindle Fire has come out of the gates strong, as expected, we see Apple maintaining its competitive lead, if anything accentuated by what now looks like the only tablet to so far mount any credible iPad challenge apparently needing to do so by selling at cost; not to mention Amazon’s success may just vaporize other “for profit” Android tablet OEM roadmaps (e.g., we est Amazon 50% of all Android tablets in CY12). Meanwhile Apple goes on as the only vendor able to cream off the most profitable segment of each market it targets, whether tablet, smartphone or PC. (emphasis ours)
The up-the-market case #1: Asustek sets shipment goal for 2012 [Dec 6]
Asustek Computer, at its global sales meeting on December 5, has set the shipment goals for its four major product lines for 2012 with notebooks and netbooks together to surpass 22 million units and the company internally expecting shipments to reach 23.8 million units, while tablet PCs will reach at least three million units with the company internally expecting the volume to reach six million units, surpassing Samsung Electronics.
for tablet PCs, Asustek expects its shipments will reach about 1.8 million units in 2011.
As for the recent report that Asustek was not invited into the Windows on ARM (WOA) development project, Asustek noted that it has the strongest R&D ability among notebook vendors and is the largest client of Nvidia; therefore, the company will continue to have tight partnership with ARM-based processor makers over development of the WOA platform.
See also: NVIDIA Tegra 3 and ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime [Nov 10 – Dec 2, 2011]
for all related information + Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime: The Rolls-Royce of Android tablets [Dec 2, 2011] as one of the first reviews
Note: Wistron Enters Asustek’s Tablet PC Supply Chain [Dec 8, 2011]
Aimed at becoming the largest brand for the Android- and Windows8-enabled tablet PCs, Asustek has aimed to challenge a goal of six million tablet PCs in 2012, three times that of this year’s 1.8 million units.
Asustek Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jerry Shen … vowed that his company will become one of the top tablet brands, next only to Apple (iPad) and Amazon (Kindle Fire). His pledge is considered by some industry executives as a challenge against Samsung, which is now the most popular brand name supplier of tablets only trailing Apple and Amazon.
Demo: Ice Cream Sandwich on Asus Transformer Prime [nvidia, Nov 17, 2011]
The up-the-market case #2: Acer, Lenovo to launch quad-core tablet PCs [Nov 29, 2011]
Acer and Lenovo are set to launch quad-core tablet PCs featuring Google’s Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and Nvidia’s Tegra 3 in the first quarterto compete against Asustek Computer, which has already launched its latest Eee Pad Transformer Prime with Tegra 3 and Samsung Electronics, according to sources from notebook players.
The sources pointed out that the competition over the quad-core tablet PCs will be difficult as these quad-core devices will only see improvements over their performance and design, but will still feature the same concept as their dual-core predecessors.
Therefore, these players may need to battle it out before being able to enter competition against players such as Amazon or Apple, the sources noted.
The sources noted that although these players’ performance in the dual-core tablet PC competition were not as good as expected, they will continue to advance and launch new quad-core devices to defend their brands.
The new quad-core tablet PCs from Acer and Lenovo are expected to be priced between US$459-599.
Since non-Apple players’ machines have no advantage to compete against Amazon or Apple’s tablet PC devices, the sources believe non-Apple players will together account for only 10-15% of the total tablet PC market.
The real up-the-market case: Amazing Screen Technology: Samsung Flexible AMOLED [Dec 4, 2012]
Some time earlier this year there were concept drawings of a Samsung phone with a flexible OLED display. This was a rather intriguing concept that we didn’t think would be happening anytime soon, but we were then proved wrong as Samsung stepped forward and said that flexible display smartphones were in the works and would be introduced some time in 2012.
Now Samsung’s Mobile Display Division has released a new concept video of what a transparent and flexible tablet of the future could look like and what it could accomplish. We’re guessing that Samsung’s flexible smartphone for 2012 won’t be anything like the concept video, but we definitely like where Samsung’s ideas are headed.
It showcases a tablet that can be shrunk and expanded according to our needs, augmented reality translation, and what appears to be 3D imagery as well that seems to literally leap off your screen.
From: Samsung shows off flexible display concept tablet in video [Dec 5, 2011]
In its quarterly earnings call, Samsung’s vice president of investor relations, Robert Yi, told investors, analysts and press, “The flexible display we are looking to introduce sometime in 2012, hopefully the earlier part. The application probably will start from the handset side.”
After flexible-screen mobile phones roll out, the company plans to introduce the same technology for tabletsand other devices.
In January 2011, Samsung purchased Liquivista, a strategic acquisition that will allow it to produce the kinds of displays that were announced today. Liquivista made electrowetting display technology, which is used to create mobile and other consumer electronic displays that are bright, low-power, flexible and transparent.
Flexible screen technology was also a focus of Samsung’s in March, when Yongsuk Choi, director of Samsung Mobile Display, gave an overview of the company’s future mobile device plans. At that time, Choi said most of the flexible-display technology Samsung was working on was still in very early stages.
From: Samsung’s new phones will have flexible screens [Oct 28, 2011]
See also on Samsung Mobile Display site:
– Future Display Used : Flexible Display – Foldable Display – Dual Display – 3D Display – Paper Thin Display: “Flexible Display: AMOLED products that are still fully functional when they are folded or rolled can be expanded and applied to full-color and mobile market as digital signage and e-book markets and technologies are developed.” …
– SMD History: … “Nov 2010: Developed WVGA [Wide VGA 800×480 resolution] Flexible AMOLED for the first time in the world” … “May 2009: Developed the world’s biggest 6.5” of Flexible AMOLED” …
HP, Dell, Acer to expand R&D investments [Nov 24, 2011]
Seeing that the PC industry is going through a slowdown, PC players Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell and Acer have all expanded their investments in R&D and as the PC industry will enter an atmosphere that is filled with multiple platformsin 2012, each vendor’s R&D, branding and marketing abilities will become important drivers to increase their competitiveness in the future, according to sources from PC players.
HP is set to increase its investment in R&D and to strengthen the related resources. The company also changed its policy to have senior vice president of research, and director of HP Labs Prith Banerjee directly report to company CEO Meg Whitman.
Meanwhile, Dell is set to expand its R&D funding to US$1 billion each year, up 51.28% from US$661 million, that was reported a year ago. Dell also noted that the company will continue to acquire companies in the future and will need more funding to integrate the acquired firms.
Furthermore, Acer’s first R&D center is also expected to increase its total engineers from 600 in the middle of the year to 1,000 by year-end with executives of brand vendors and ODMs all major targets for headhunting.
An Acer executive also pointed out that the PC industry is experiencing a significant change, transitioning from Wintel system dominated to competition between several different platforms. Therefore, to the ability to develop devices based on Google’s Android system or ARM will become important.
AMD helping Android fans port to x86 [Dec 6, 2011]
A team of developers working privately to port the next version of Android to the x86 platform has been receiving a lot of support from AMD, but less from other key players.
The project is seeking to port the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) android-4.0.1_r1 release build to the x86 platform, and Chih-Wei Huang, one of the enthusiasts involved, told The Register that AMD had not only donated two tablets to the cause, but also has a couple of engineers helping out. As a result, the porting to AMD’s Brazos platform is now largely complete and the source code has been made available.
The first porting of Android to the x86 platform was actually done by Google engineers, but he explained that the Google team had not been continuing with the project since Android version 1.5, aka Cupcake. While the developers submit patches to Google, they seldom hear back, although some Google engineers are helping out privately with the project. Intel, too, hasn’t been keen.
“Generally speaking, Google didn’t care for the x86, at least before ICS,” he told The Registerin an email conversation. “Intel doesn’t care, either. They don’t want to help us. I’ve tried to contact Intel in different ways, but the replies were negative.”
Intel’s position has caused the team considerable problems, not least in getting Android to work with the video chipsets, and particularly the hardware acceleration added to Chipzilla’s kit. Work is still continuing, but since this is a voluntary project by people who have day jobs, then Android users might have a while before they can plaster an Intel Inside sticker on their systems.
Chih-Wei Huang, an open source advocate based in Taiwan, started the project with a former colleague in June 2009, and it has morphed to the point where the scheme has 2,600 subscribers to the project forum. He said that while he tried to keep the porting process up to date, it was a lot of work and some people weren’t sharing data.
“Now ICS is more mature for x86 tablet or netbook, so there are more practical reasons to do that,” he said. “Actually, I know some vendors like Bluestack, Viewsonic, and Insyde have already shipped Android-x86.org based products. However, they never contribute back. That usually makes us feel bad and angry.”
Supplementary information: Android: A visual history [Dec 7, 2011]