Speaking from the Tablet: Trends from Barcelona

Speaking from the Tablet: Trends from Barcelona

Speaking from the Tablet: Trends from Barcelona

One trend of which we have seen evidence at the largest cell phone exhibition in the world is the continued blurring of the boundaries between tablets and smartphones. Initial tablet models we have seen from Lenovo and Asus have suddenly included, in their top part, not only a camera, but also a grille behind which is an internal speaker – just like in telephones. Do the manufacturers intend for us to speak from the tablet? Indeed they do.

The personal (7-inch) tablet devices (a trend that generally seems to be growing), so claim the manufacturers, can also serve for VoIP conversations (e.g., Skype), and so their internal speaker is on the front. The manufacturers really expect us to hold these devices to our ear (or use earphones). And, in a lesson learned from past experience, most already come with a 3G modem built-in, or with a SIM slot.

Among the examples that we saw at the exhibition, is Lenovo’s ideatab A3000 – a 7-inch tablet with quad-core processor, 3500 mA/h battery, based on Android 4.2, with some other nice features, as well as… a built-in VoIP speaker. We saw similar models from Asus, which had suddenly “grown” a built-in speaker.

Battle of the Processors

Secondly, we saw that there is a battle raging among the processors. All of the companies producing processor chips for cell phones – Intel, Qualcomm, and NVidia – have embarked on a merciless war of versions, with each of them announcing that their processor was the best and fastest.

The battle is no longer over the crown jewels – that is, top market share. Now the name of the game is to provide good, powerful processors for the middle and lower markets, where the “next billion users” are going to be found – in China, Egypt, India, the countries of Africa, and so on.

NVidia, at their booth, carried out a simple exercise – they said to journalists and analysts, “Don’t believe us – carry out your own performance tests on our Tegra4 and Tegra4i processors,” and then they let the journalists run the performance trials. Indeed, some journalists were able to obtain results that place these processors at the top of the performance tables, and their comments talk about how they “squash” or “smash” the competition.

Murthy Renduchintala, head of Qualcomm Mobile and Computing, expressed confidence in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, in terms of all aspects of their technology. “We set ourselves the goal of leading, not just one generation on, but even another three generations down the road,”

Qualcomm is playing mainly with the balance between performance and battery consumption. “High performance levels that come with high current draw in a battery-limited environment – are irrelevant.” Renduchintala points out that Qualcomm have worked closely with their customers, whom he says are the Who’s Who of the industry, to ensure technological supremacy. I challenged him with the outstanding results given by NVidia processors. His confident reply: “If anyone is going to squash and eliminate the competition – it will be Qualcomm.”

Disclosure: the writer was the guest of Qualcomm in Barcelona.