Cellular World Congress 2016

Mobile World Congress 2016

A panel session probing the perennial heads or tails of cellular system commoditization vs cellular gadget innovation right here at MWC 2016 earlier right now heard an fascinating vary of views. Audio system ran the gamut of cellular makers massive and small (Samsung, Motorola/Lenovo and Wileyfox), by means of to chipset maker Qualcomm, various open Android taste Cyanogen, and cellular operator Telefonica.

Every had their very own spin on what ‘innovation’ means within the smartphone area now, within the context of mature Western markets — and inevitably aligning with their respective enterprise imperatives. And nobody was fairly prepared to pronounce smartphones too boring to be purchased within the looked for portions to maintain the cellular progress engine. Though there have been numerous takes on what being revolutionary in smartphone phrases means now.

Related units extending the capabilities of handsets — and thus appearing as an added promoting level incentive — are clearly entrance of thoughts for some, corresponding to Samsung, which has in fact had a harder time within the hyper aggressive smartphone market in recent times.

The concept each innovation and commoditization are occurring concurrently – with a two-tier smartphone market in play that’s concurrently delivering growing worth on the one hand, but nonetheless arising with compelling new bells and whistles on the premium prime of the road was additionally usually accepted.

“On the innovation aspect once we hear innovation’s gone from the class… we expect that’s completely flawed,” stated Tim McDonough, SVP of selling at Qualcomm, pointing to flagship bulletins this week from Samsung and LG. “Innovation within the handset’s not constrained to the four.5 inch or 5 inch display within the gadget; it’s the whole lot surrounding it, together with the power to seize digital actuality and watch it and share it over wi-fi with family and friends,” he argued.

Samsung’s Jean-Daniel Ayme, Company VP of its IM division, asserted that the “centre of an ecosystem” is now constructing across the smartphone – speaking up the VR angle it was pushing closely at its flagship launch occasion yesterday. Its Gear VR headset hyperlinks to and extends the capabilities of its flagship smartphones so the headset featured prominently within the launch of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge (Some may say too prominently… ). So you possibly can argue a flagship telephone in and of itself isn’t longer sufficient to show heads and excite upgrades by itself. However throw in compelling sufficient related equipment and that modifications the sport, argued Ayme.

Stephane Maes, VP of product administration and planning at Motorola, now owned by Lenovo, stated its tackle innovation is extra about constructing options into telephones that buyers are genuinely asking for –- noting, as an example, that it’s promoting a telephone which boasts of getting an unbreakable display. And speaking up “significant improvements that matter to shoppers”. So sort of the other of VR then; i.e. actually sensible stuff, somewhat than pure fantasy.

The wild card on the panel, UK smartphone startup Wileyfox, which makes use of Cyanogen’s taste of Android on its smartphones, argued it’s delivering revolutionary by providing shoppers an alternate on the 2-yr service contract that locks individuals into paying a hefty chunk for handset hardware. CEO Nick Muir’s argument is that handset element prices have been commoditized in order that when coupled with a lean startup philosophy it’s capable of ship ‘innovation’ within the type of a variety of reasonably priced but acceptable (when it comes to efficiency and design) smartphones to finances-acutely aware clients.

“Individuals might a lot an excessive amount of for his or her cellular units,” stated Muir. “Increasingly more individuals are starting to see the cracks in the usual mannequin – and that commonplace mannequin being you need to pay for a two yr contract to have the ability to afford the system you need… I do know that the invoice of supplies permits us to have the ability to promote the system at an inexpensive worth and the rationale we will do that isn’t monumental scale, it’s not simply tier one elements, it’s round the truth that we don’t have any sporting contracts, we don’t have legacy pensions, we don’t have glass workplaces, all of us journey by EasyJet and we keep in Airbnb. We’re a low value group and that low value will get handed on to the buyer – and that’s a part of it.”

For Cyanogen itself, which builds its personal software program additions into open Android and thus goals to expands the capabilities provided by inventory Android (being steered in that mission by asking a core group of builders what new OS options they want to see), it’s newest software program improvement is concentrated on decreasing friction with app interactions.

“At present we introduced a platform on prime of Cyanogen, referred to as MOD, and what MOD is is actually the publish-app interplay mannequin,” famous Vikram Natarajan, SVP, international partnerships & distribution, referencing its earlier MWC information. “We will take one of the best of apps and combine them within the floor areas of the working system – corresponding to your dialer, corresponding to your calendar, akin to your lock display, so you have got a lot richer interplay fashions with these providers that you realize and love, whereas nonetheless probably going again to the app for a extra absolutely featured interplay.

“MOD we consider is the way forward for interactions in relation to these providers, and it’s not apps vs MODS, it’s apps and MODs — as a result of MODs prolong the app expertise. And we expect that is fascinating as a result of now from a commodity perspective we will companion with handset makers and supply them differentiation over and above common good previous Android.”

Privateness and safety rising up the agenda

One fascinating theme that emerged from the dialogue was that privateness/safety is turning into an growing differentiator for various gamers in a commoditized smartphone area. Within the Android OEM area you might argue that’s a symptom of the platform being steered by Google, an organization whose enterprise mannequin is predicated on amassing big quantities of knowledge about customers with a purpose to energy its advert concentrating on enterprise. (Though Apple’s reverse, very public professional-privateness stance on the subject of iOS might be encouraging others to comply with its lead too.)

So little marvel there was room for Cyanogen to broaden Android by, for instance, pushing the event of particular person app controls for customers (a function which has now trickled right down to Wileyfox’s Android units, for instance).

The lone service voice on the panel, Francisco Montalvo, director of the group units unit for Telefónica S.A, additionally asserted that privateness shall be more and more essential because the Web of Issues proliferates — arguing that buyers will grow to be extra conscious of the commerce offs they’re making in trade for entry to extra and extra related providers.

“I don’t assume the smartphone itself shall be offering the innovation we expect. I actually consider the knowledge gathered by the smartphone will create new use instances for shoppers – that’s the place the worth is. And that’s why for us it’s so essential that the buyer are conscious of the knowledge that the smartphone is gathering – and the way that info is shared with different third events. That’s why we’re supporting Cyanogen. That’s why we consider shoppers have to be conscious concerning the worth they’re getting in trade of data they’re sharing,” he stated. “That is the place we see – within the subsequent two years – plenty of motion.”

Qualcomm’s McDonough additionally talked up future developments coming down the pipe associated to privateness and safety. “We expect the subsequent is the telephone is your private id. We don’t imply your telephone only for funds, or your telephone simply in your well being data. However your telephone as a illustration of you. And when you consider how necessary that gadget might be in your, as your digital passport, going from nation to nation, the necessity for safety and authentication turns into so extremely essential,” he stated.

“Qualcomm’s investing so much in issues like machine studying, the power to run all the sensors in your smartphone all the time. And with a tool that’s conscious of who you’re, what your conduct patterns are, it truly regularly authenticates that you simply’re you – with out having to place in a pin or a password or a fingerprint. So take into consideration your telephone as your private id and the way essential safety is and how one can shield that info. I feel that’s one space of innovation.”

“The opposite is absolutely your telephone as a considering entity. So once more take the power to run a neural community in your telephone, have that neural community conscious of what’s happening round it from all of the sensors which might be operating on it continually – can your telephone develop into a private assistant that’s context conscious, could make selections for you… That’s conscious of you, your habits and what’s all the time happening with the info within the telephone and the world encompass it,” he added.

“These are simply a few examples the place anybody who’s saying there’s no innovation within the smartphone at the moment goes to be right here in a yr or two or three goes to be stunned with what the subsequent wave of handsets goes to do.”

On safety and privateness, Wileyfox’s Muir described it as one of many differentiating “pillars” for its reasonably priced Android consumer expertise. “We’ve spent plenty of time on that. I don’t assume it’s proper that apps ought to be capable of harvest your knowledge and provides your knowledge away to the very best bidder or use themselves. It is best to have extra management over that,” he famous, itemizing it first in his record of essential tweaks, forward of even gadget personalization and luxury.