MWC 2018 Roundup

Counterpoint analysts were in Barcelona to meet companies and experience the latest technology developments.  This year’s MWC showcased improved smartphone technologies like in-display fingerprint readers, AI-powered cameras, and slimmer bezels.   The showroom floors were filled with an emphasis on IoT and 5G.

The key takeaways from this year’s MWC, Barcelona event are below:

In the smartphone segment, major brands like Samsung, Nokia, Alcatel, Vivo, LG, Sony and Asus displayed their new smartphones with improved technologies.  Most of the OEMs are focusing on full screen devices, improvement in camera performance / quality, and adding AI capabilities to their devices.  OEMs are also aiming to provide affordable devices for the mass market by forming partnerships.  Nokia and Google ‘Android One’ and ‘Android Go’ devices captured the spotlight (Please refer to our Day 0 blog for more details).  In addition to the main brands, other Android Go devices included Vestel’s E2 Go and General Mobile GM 8 Go.  Wiko has taken a big leap in terms of the design of its devices.  View 2 Pro caught the attention due to its 19:9 aspect ratio.

The new chipset solutions by Qualcomm, Huawei and MediaTek are focused on IoT, 5G, and AI.  Qualcomm also rolled out its new Snapdragon 700 series with major improvements in camera, device performance along with advancements in on-device AI.  The new 700 series is expected to double processing power and improve power efficiency by 30% which will aid longer battery life. The chipset is scheduled to be released in 2018.  This could be a great option for the China market and OEMs targeting upper mid-tier price range.  The introduction of this new chipset would enable premium features to be included in affordable devices.  The tricky part for Qualcomm, similar to past launches with ‘lower-cost versions’, is avoiding cannibalization of 800 series sales.

IoT & 5G use cases were in the limelight. A majority of the tech giants are forming partnerships to deliver enhanced IoT solutions. Network operators are aggressively working towards early deployment of 5G network rollout in the US.  Fixed mobile and mobile broadband enhancements are the immediate use cases.  Innovations in the connected car space is the longer-term carrot for 5G.  There were dozens IoT use cases ‘in the wild’ from new fleet management use cases to smart farming (tracking livestock).

The AR/VR segment grabbed very little attention. Major announcements came from HTC’s CEO Cher Wang who emphasized that company will direct its efforts towards building and enhancing immersive technology platforms. The Vive headsets (Vive, Vive Pro and Vive Focus) were referred to as “Vive Reality”, indicating how the company’s future is heavily dependent on developing and enhancing its VR platform. After shifting to a very smaller and targeted smartphone business, the company is now in the process focusing on driving the HTC Vive business across regions to put more emphasis on headsets.

Other emerging technologies which were discussed include Smart Agriculture.   One example use case amongst many included the use of drones and sensors in rice production.  Extensive monitoring of moisture, temperature and color is now possible greatly automating the process.  ‘Connected drones’ is another potential segment being driven by the impending 5G era.  Look for more use cases once regulatory modifications are solidified. (Refer to our drone blog for more details).

For more details about MWC, look for the upcoming Counterpoint MWC insights report.  To schedule a call to discuss any details, contact info(at)counterpointresearch.com.

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