Market Analysis

Laurence Bryant (UK) - 2011: Evolution of Electronics in Mobile

2010 has been a landmark year for consumer electronics. User expectations have increased dramatically during the year due to the accelerated development of mobile Internet capabilities of handheld devices. In turn, this has resulted in numerous innovative designs, led by the revolutionary tablet form factor. Functionality and sleek design demands have added to the technology requirements, placing added pressure on manufacturers to re-invent the personal computing device and create a full mobile Internet experience.

Today's mobile device users have quickly learnt to expect constant broadband connectivity that will allow them to view a rich multimedia content online. There is also an expectation that these devices should offer an improved and more relevant experience of the internet through the integration of location with search, in comparison to the home personal computer.

Today's mobile devices are equipped with high definition video, gaming, modem connectivity, HTML5 and demand vastly increased levels of data processing. As a result of the increasing availability of multimedia rich content and consumer demand for devices that adequately display the information, mobile and smartphone device displays are now bigger and better. This improves viewing experience and usability. As a result, content and the way we view it is now driving mobile device design.
Feature-rich devices need to perform flexibly or ‘elastically' to manage the power consumption. Delivering high performance as required, such as running complex applications, engaging user interfaces and delivering Internet capabilities without lag. However, the processing technology needs to perform at optimal levels in low power or idle states to maintain battery life. It is crucial that the industry develops more low-power technologies to meet the consumer's expectation regarding access to quality content, anywhere and everywhere.

As the industry searches for new ways to meet these expectations, one technique called symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) will be adopted on mobile platforms to deliver more peak processing performance within the same power budget. With SMP, multiple identical processors access a single shared memory and run a single operating system scheduling tasks seamlessly between the processors to maximise performance and power consumption as required by the task in hand.

In 2010 there was a huge shift in device form factor with the introduction of new touch-screen tablets to the market. Next year we expect to see a couple of factors in play Firstly, manufacturers will be broadening their portfolios as they move the smartphone & tablet experience to lower price points feeding the amazing appetite in the market for these devices. Within a couple of years we will see the smartphone shipments outpace the combined shipments of desktop and smartbook PC, making the smartphone the number one target for application developers. As the market expands, it will be left to the same manufacturers to try and create 2011's ‘must-have' devices. This will be ever more defined by the functionality of the software and the closer integration of internet services running on multiprocessing technology, squeezing ever more performance into mobile devices.

Laurence Bryant, director of mobile solutions at ARM.


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