Android, 64-bit chips and low-cost handsets were big at MWC, but Nokia's Android hybrid, Samsung's Tizen, and Google's absence raised questions.
Here's our review of the good, the bad, and the missing-in-action at last week's Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest and most important mobile electronics tradeshow.
First, here's the good news. The industry continues to embrace Android as the platform of choice. Even Nokia, soon to be Microsoft, announced its first Android smartphone. Despite the announcement by Samsung that it will use Tizen and other real-time OSs (RTOSes) in wearables, the company stuck with Android for the new Galaxy S5 smartphone.
IoT solutions, particularly wearables, focused on being compatible devices to smartphones and other platforms rather than smartphone alternatives. In addition, we are beginning to see a missing ingredient in wearables -- bling! Aesthetics will be critical to garner mass consumer adoption, so more companies are beginning to focus on the looks as well as the technology.
The leading mobile SoC vendors MediaTek and Qualcomm both announced new 64-bit ARM-based SoCs. Unlike the custom cores used in Apple’s A7 and Nvidia’s Tegra K1, the new MediaTek and Qualcomm products will be using standard ARM Cortex-A53 cores and will feature integrated LTE on the chip. In any case, the number of 64-bit SoC offerings is and will continue to increase throughout 2014.
We saw a growing focus on low-cost smartphones for the next billion users. Some solutions like that of Spreadtrum and Mozilla (Firefox OS) aim to take smartphones as low as $25. While the FirefoxOS is nothing new, we still consider this a highlight of the show, because of its focus on the low-cost smartphones and because of its potential.
Unlike other proposed solutions that are controlled by OEMs, Firefox offers a third-party solution that is not critical to the company’s business model. Like Google, Mozilla is a relatively neutral party to the battle for control of the platform. We believe it has more potential to be the number three mobile OS within a few years.
Finally, enterprise solutions emerged for Android, like Knox security from Samsung. Mobile devices are critical to enterprise productivity. Additional secure solutions are long overdue.
Next page: Now for the bad news