SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Seeking a bigger slice of the expanding mobile-systems pie, Hewlett-Packard, Qualcomm and Samsung talked about their next-generation displays and courted application developers at the MobileBeat 2010 conference here. Separately, one company demonstrated a novel approach to autostereoscopic 3-D displays for mobile systems.
In a keynote talk, John Donovan, chief technology officer for AT&T Operations called the mobile systems growth unprecedented. "In the third quarter of 2009 we started to see a ramp like we've never seen before," he said, noting the AT&T net now supports 5.8 million data devices using more than 200,000 applications up from 2.2 million deices and 12,000 apps in 2008.
Success in this rapidly growing market goes to "those companies that control the end-to-end experience," said Phil McKinney, chief technology officer of Hewlett-Packard's personal systems group, explaining why HP is investing an estimated $2 billion in its acquisition of smartphone maker Palm.
Palm's WebOS will power HP smartphones, tablets, printers and other devices, attracting developers and following in the footsteps of Apple Inc. "We see [Microsoft] Windows having its segment of the market, but when you get in highly mobile part of market we needed an approach that would let us control the end-to-end experience," he said.
McKinney also showed a prototype bi-stable flexible display from HP Labs capable of handling color and 60 Hz video, a technology he said would ultimately fuel more growth in mobile systems. View the video here.
"I think display technology has the biggest opportunity, so I was really happy to see him show flexible displays," said Bob Morris, director of mobile computing at ARM Ltd.
Multiple mobile systems will adopt Qualcomm's Mirasol displays in 2011 because they offer color and video support while consuming less power than traditional displays, saidSy Choudhury, a product management director at Qualcomm. "The displays are still the big power hog," he said.
For its part, Samsung said its four-inch AMOLED displays used in its Galaxy S phones out this summer represent the next step in smartphone displays. In addition, both Samsung and Qualcomm promised to release dual-core mobile apps processors running at rates beyond a GHz in 2011.
Omar Kahn (below), chief strategy officer for Samsung Electronics, called on apps developers to partner with his company to develop software that leverages its CPU and display technologies. "This is the year of four-inch-plus [cellphone] displays and GHz processors," he said.
Some OEMs will partner with silicon makers to develop custom mobile chips to compete with the vertically integrated giants such as Samsung and Apple, said Morris of ARM.
Separately, Master Image (Burbank, Calif.) demoed its technology to create stereo 3-D mobile displays that don't require 3-D glasses. It is currently available to support displays from three to 24 inches diagonal, viewable by up to eight users.
The technology uses a special LCD driver chip and a novel parallax barrier overlay. It uses a pixel-by-pixel switching overlay rather than the line-by-line approach in the Sharp Corp. technology used in the Nintendo DS handheld game device, said Harris Lee, a senior engineer at Master Image shown (below) with a prototype phone.
The Master Image approach helps create a significantly brighter display compared to the Sharp technique, Lee said.