Trends In Mobile Computing


5 Aug 2011
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That’s what’s indicated by the trends of the past six months. While PC commoditization continues to change the market dynamics in the consumer space, buying behavior is the biggest influence in the market. Here are the main trends.

New processor platforms
Intel and AMD have been trying to create new benchmarks and have been quick to announce the next generation of processors. In April 2011, almost all manufacturers announced models on Huron River, the mobile version of the Sandy Bridge platform launched for the desktop market earlier this year.

Overall, the PC market, which saw a slump in Q42010 and Q12011, is expected to get a boost with the launch of the new generation of processors from Intel.

“We believe that demand will increase with the onset of summer, and the graphic capabilities of the Huron River platform should tempt a number of customers to upgrade,” says Rajesh Thadani, Director, Consumer Business Unit, HSB Lenovo India.

Similarly, AMD launched Brazos, part of its Fusion range of accelerated processor units (APUs) which combine the CPU and GPU functions inside a single die. This has also been taken seriously by some of the OEMs. For example, Acer India, recognizing that the product line requires special attention, has signed on Neoteric as an exclusive distributor.

Acer has also launched notebooks with Web cams for HD recording. “Seeing the demand from consumers we have introduced new features such as the Dolby sound system and an HD recording facility in notebooks,” says Saji Kumar, Head, Product Management, Acer India.

Adds N Shivakumar, General Manager, Toshiba India, “We are seeing yet another wave in computing platforms with a focus on visual computing. Consumers are demanding features such as HDMI because they would like to watch movies and play 3D games on their laptops.”

Over the past two months the first models on the Nvidia Tegra platform have appeared with Toshiba launching a netbook model sporting a 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of flash storage.

Tablet market
The Indian PC market is converging with the handheld device market. In the next few years many of the functions now available only on a PC will also become available on mobile handset devices. Recognizing this, PC vendors have begun protecting their turf by introducing smartphone devices. Vendors such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo are offering handheld devices as a flanking strategy to ward off competition from Qualcomm, Nokia and Samsung. While Dell, Samsung and Acer have already launched their offerings, Lenovo and HP are expected to have high-profile launches of their products later this month.

Analysts predict that tablets could spell doom for netbooks. “Most of the growth in consumer tablet PCs will come in the home segment at the expense of mini-notebooks and ultraportable PCs. Though the iPad has not yet been officially introduced in the Indian market, it has done a lot to inspire consumers to own a tablet,” says Vishal Tripathi, Principal Analyst, Gartner India.

However, the present price-points of tablets are in excess of `21,000, with those from Dell and Acer being priced at more than `35,000. “Netbooks were launched with low entry-level price-points as their USP, but they did not see increasing demand because of their limited functionality,” says Ashwini Agarwal, President, MAIT. “I believe tablets will create a market of their own, built largely because of a superior fashion quotient and greater portability.”

SSD demand
While the market size is still very small, manufacturers such as Dell, Lenovo and HP have announced ultra portable high-end laptops with in-built SSDs. These notebooks now cost `90,000 or more, but vendors are expecting prices to drop once SSD acceptance grows. “SSD prices have been dropping by almost 300 percent year-on-year. By the end of the year, the price difference between SSDs and normal drives should be $100 or so. This would make them affordable enough to be included in mainstream notebooks,” says Gopal Swaminathan, Director, Sales & Marketing, Intel India.

Broadband-ready notebooks
With 3G services being rolled out by service providers, you can expect more models which are broadband-ready. “In our Thinkpad range we have models which are mobile broadband-ready, so all the user needs to do is insert a 3G-ready SIM card,” says Rajesh Dixit, Director, KAB, Think Classic Product Group and Channels, Lenovo India.

While these products are currently priced high, mobile broadband is expected to be a feature that will be standard by the end of the year.

Longer battery life
“We believe that the biggest battle in the notebook market will be about how long the battery can stay charged. With the innovations that AMD has brought in, the day is not far when your notebook can stay charged over a 12-hour transcontinental flight,” says Ravi Swaminathan, MD & VP, AMD India.

Using low-power components and design innovations, notebook vendors have today managed to create products that have a battery life of over eight hours. With the next generation of notebooks being powered by SSDs and low-power processors, it’s likely that we’ll see a 10-hour battery life in the near future.

source : crn
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