CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

Summary: With the Consumer Electronics Show going all tablets all the time, it's easy to overlook the humble smartphone. Don't.


CES 2011

With the Consumer Electronics Show going all tablets all the time, it's easy to overlook the humble smartphone. But it's silly to downplay the smartphone given all of the moving parts.

Oppenheimer analyst Ittai Kidron said:

While not new trends, smartphones, OS updates, and mobile apps are all likely to get prominent media attention at CES. We expect smartphones to be the strongest contributor to wireless vendor growth in 2011 (+40%E YoY) and we expect a steady stream of new device announcements at CES.

Here's a quick crib sheet on what we're expecting.

All eyes are on Verizon. Verizon is widely expected to unveil a slew of 4G Android devices. And these devices can't come soon enough. Any Verizon customer with a contract that has expired is holding out for a 4G capable device. According to various observers, Verizon's mission at CES boils down to the following:

  • Show Google remains a key partner despite all the chatter about the arrival of Apple's iPhone.
  • Set Verizon up to take the lead in the 4G conversation, which has been the domain of Sprint/Clearwire and increasingly T-Mobile, which is marketing its HSPA network as offering "4G speeds."
  • Stoke smartphone demand for its faster network.
  • On the device front, it's safe to assume that Verizon's trio of Android partners---Motorola, HTC and Samsung---will show off the latest greatest devices. The more 4G devices the merrier.

Motorola Mobility, one half of what used to be a united Motorola, will use CES to define its product focus, markets, customer targeting and diversification plans. In theory, we should all have a clear definition of Motorola Mobility after CES. Expect a lot of Verizon Droid talk, but key partnerships with the likes of AT&T.

Speaking of AT&T, the messaging will revolve around new devices and diversification. The demise of AT&T once it loses iPhone exclusivity is vastly overblown---for now. AT&T's goal at CES is to show that it's more than just the iPhone. Expect Android and Windows Phone 7 devices to be showcased from AT&T.

T-Mobile and "4G". The carrier has a 4G press conference scheduled. T-Mobile has been marketing its network as delivering 4G speeds. T-Mobile is likely to tout Android devices and its network build out plans.

Some evidence of the WebOS plan from Hewlett-Packard. What does HP's smartphone line-up look like? Can Palm deliver another Pre-like surprise at CES?


Topics: Verizon, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones, AT&T, Wi-Fi

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  • RE: CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

    Most people fail to realize that a phone is expected to be a highly portable and an exceptionally convenient device - I mean, what precise difference would there be between a phone and a tablet/laptop apart from these.

    A phone has to be a phone first and a data device second. A tablet/laptop has to be a data device first and a hands-free phone second.

    Unless, these glaring facts are acknowledged, both would continue to perform as imperfect devices because of their unwieldy or inadequate dimensions, regardless of the features they pack.

    In my opinion, a phone should not be broader than 2-2.2.5", longer than 3.5-4.5 Inches, and higher than .10-.25". Most of the surface area should be dedicated to the screen, having 4 buttons and a joy-pad on top with scroll-to-choose multiple menu-options for the essential functions and a time-triggered default menu-option for the peripheral functions. These options should be standard for every button. A touch-screen, an on-screen QWERTY Keyboard (with automated correction and add-to-dictionary options),a media-player, headphones and speakers, a high-resolution video/still camera( 8-10MPX ), a conferencing-camera (3-5MPX ), broadband connectivity(HSPA(7-15 Mbps adequate for now) or WiMAX(for future needs), and voice-activated dialing should be standard. These can, then, be complemented with a scroll-wheel(for scrolling through pages and directories, a QWERTY slide or fold-out keyboard( to avoid smudging the screen and to have the entire screen area visible ), a stylus (for precise selections, and a touchpad(for the same purpose).

    The design would have to be a contemporary art-form. The pictures of the different callers and messagers should pop up on calls and messages from them or else their names read out aloud(You could even have the favorite fragrance of your girlfriend or wife released on her call or message). You should be able to have a silent-mode for different group of callers at different times of the day( with an option provided for them to leave a message, instead),and with the loved-ones provided with an option to over-ride the silent-mode.

    Tablet PCs(UMPCS or Notepads) can be from 7-9" * 5-7". Laptops can be from 13-17" * 10-18". A phone should weigh from 50 gms to 300 gms. A notepad from 300gms-1000 gms and a laptop from 800-2000 gms.

    Text-Speech applications are realizable, but useful only for the large devices, not phones. Speech-Text applications are too processing-intensive for them to be of any value for a device at the moment. They might be of some use for the baby-boomers , once the processing power and power management are enhanced substantially.
  • RE: CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

    Oh I didn't forget. I'm waiting for Verizon and Sprint to announce that they will be selling WP7 phones immediately. Then I can get that much needed upgrade. I'm not waiting for 4G, I'm waiting for better phones.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Sprint and Verizon

      I'm told the HTC Mozart will be the Verizon WP7 offering, or at least one of them, which would definitely draw me in.
      Michael Alan Goff
  • RE: CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

    "Can Palm deliver another Pre-like surprise at CES?"

    The only thing surprising about the Pre was how long it took for Palm to get it out into the market. I would say that Palm moves at a glacial pace, but that wouldn't be fair to glaciers.
  • RE: CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

    In addition, all mobile devices need to have thin clients for hosts running on servers ( cloud computing - the client determining the processing needs, checking the battery power,ascertaining the transmission conditions, and then deciding to have the processing performed either on the device or on a remote server. All mobile devices need to have scalable (Intel's Xscale sold to Marvell) or multi-core processors(Sandy brdige - integrating the processing cores, video processor,memory, PCIe, and the System Agent on the same monolithic silicon wafer to speed processing and lower power consumption). Such devices can also have separate processors for somewhat non-variable media code and SCSI-like controllers for cameras and other peripherals to speed all applications. Most important of all, the casing should either be designed as a replacable battery to enhance the endurance of the devices or made of of a composite fiber to reduce their weights. A phone that doesn't fit into your pocket, ruins the symmetry of your dress, or dangles around is quite inconvenient(unless of course you wear it on your belt).A tablet should lend itself to hand carriage, while a laptop should lend itself to back or slick carriage; if not hand carriage. The lighter the better, and the dimensions have to lend themselves not only to convenient carriage, but also to two-thumb or one-finger typing or use operation(depending on which peculiar manner of typing it's been designed for )
  • RE: CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

    Finally, people buy these devices to enhance the quality of their lives(This, they accomplish through the applications and ergonomics) - unless these devices can deliver on this front, they offer absolutely nothing in terms of a value proposition - adults don't play with toys!.
    These devices need GPS functionality integrated with product locators and transportation-options, so that they can search for your desired products or services and chart your journey in a manner that will help you complete your chores enroute.Applications to find restaurants, other social and cultural venues, travel options, and choose from the menus and make reservations, etc; would also be convenient.

    The purpose of these devices is to automate your chores(free up time), simplify your life(eliminate clutter), enhance the quality of your life( enhanced and better options and a higher degree of tranquility(which alone or together translate into happiness), and maximize your free time (eliminate all time-consuming and monotonous chores and automate all those that can be automated) . Unless a device can deliver such value, it's absolutely useless. Furthermore, for book-reading, it needs to provide you with black text against a dull screen in order to reduce eyestrain)
  • RE: CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

    Finally - the larger the memory, the more versatile the device. You might need magnetic, optical, or holographic memories for some of the larger devices, but NAND should suffice for the smaller devices. Within NAND, I would prefer SD or mini-SD ? it?s wafer-thin and it has adapters for mini and micro-SD ? it neither adds to the dimensions nor to the weight of the device. I would also want something similar for the ROM. Why have oneself constricted by trivial considerations? Varied and better options in terms of value-delivering applications, convenient ergonomics, long battery-life, versatile carriage, and scalable processor and transceiver power are crucial to the success or failure of a device.
  • RE: CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

    A scroll wheel doesn?t make much sense, since one can scroll much easier with the touch-screen; It might have some use for volume and camera brightness, etc; control. The touch-screen, though, still has additional potential in terms of the number of taps in succession for different functions or a continuous hold for a context-sensitive menu. Finally, you?d need an inimitable biometric ID for all mobile devices.
  • RE: CES: Don't forget the smartphones, carriers

    If a phone cannot have the entire top area dedicated to the screen, or if a slide-out keyboard would make it too cumbersome and unwieldy, then an on-screen keyboard and even an ordinary slim one-thumb phone would suffice in its place for messaging, however, for Word Processing, Spread Sheet, Surfing, and Database applications you do need a slide or flip-out keyboard for the enabling of a larger screen area.

    There are niche segments for all the different phone types.

    I started out with the HP 6515 Communicator (which had too small keys- a single thumb stroke translated into multiple keystrokes), I then upgraded to an HTC-8925(AT&T Tilt)(slightly thick(height) and heavy), and then complemented these with an Iphone (slightly broad) and a lightweight basic one-thumb phone( unsatisfactory for data needs, but lightweight enough for slide into your pocket for partying, etc).

    Even if the keys are small, you can have non-adjacent key-edges raised to prevent multiple keystrokes with a single thumb-stroke.