Daily Insight: Mobile World Congress 2016 (Monday)

News and Analysis

This is the second of our daily reports from Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona.

Divided into six research areas, it contains a round-up of the show’s notable announcements followed by initial comment by our team of analysts.


Sony unveils new line of smartphones
CCS Insight: Sony announced three handsets as part of its Xperia X range: the lower-priced Xperia XA, the mid-range Xperia X and the high-end Xperia X Performance. The models do not break significant new ground, but much of Sony’s strategy in releasing these devices is based on software and services to keep users engaged. However, because it lacks the smartphone platform heft of Apple and Google, it has found it hard to build momentum for these services and software. We believe most developers will gravitate toward market share or money, which means Amazon, Google and Apple.

Sony announces range of concept smart products
CCS Insight: Sony has used trade shows before to try out its concepts, such as its Life Space connected home devices. But it is highly unusual to give such a high profile at a major show to concepts that may not become real products for some time, or even at all.

Panasonic debuts new Toughpad tablets
CCS Insight: Panasonic plays to its strengths with these latest rugged Android handheld tablets. It targets a growing enterprise market with a demand for powerful, flexible and purpose-built products, rather than adding to the endless list of Android products in a declining consumer tablet market.

ZTE introduces Blade V7 and Blade V7 Lite
CCS Insight: The Blade V7 and V7 Lite are important additions to ZTE’s Blade family, which is targeted at young consumers and which shipped over 30 million units in 50 countries in 2015. Both products underline the progress ZTE has made in design and build with a metal unibody offering a premium feel at attractive prices.

Emporia unveils Classic and Comfort phones for seniors
CCS Insight: Phones for seniors remain an important niche and Emporia has developed a good track record in this segment. The new handsets illustrate Emporia’s unique capability in addressing an increasingly segmented opportunity where simplification does not mean a lack of features.

Japanese manufacturer Freetel debuts Rei smartphone for Western markets
CCS Insight: Freetel is striving to break the negative trend that has seen Japanese manufacturers struggle in the global smartphone market as the initiative shifts to China. The Rei is a bold effort to address the premium Android segment but Freetel faces intense competition and price pressure.


Sony unveils Xperia Ear
CCS Insight: Sony’s Xperia Ear intelligent Bluetooth earpiece is an interesting attempt to use voice commands and notifications as a new way for users to interact with apps on smartphones while their hands or eyes may be busy with other tasks. To be attractive to large numbers of users the voice processing will need to be excellent and it will need to work with a wide range of apps and functions on the phone.

Sony showcases Xperia Eye concept lifelogging camera
CCS Insight: The camera has a wide-angle fisheye lens and is designed to be attached to clothing or worn around the neck. It is questionable how long Sony will persevere with making this concept a reality, given its rivals are already moving onto creating attachable 360-degree cameras.

Guess unveils two new designs for its Guess Connect smartwatch
CCS Insight: The sporty minimalistic in black is aimed at men; the light blue version with crystals is aimed at women. Given that watch design is not one-size-fits-all, we expect existing smartwatch manufacturers to increase the variety they offer. The new variations of the Connect watch will be available from April this year.

MasterCard and WISeKey partner to bring payments to luxury watches and wearables
CCS Insight: We predict that payment will become a strong selling point for wearables. Traditional watch manufacturers are right to look for ways to defend their market. The move also shows that different payment systems are likely to co-exist in the future.

ImmerVision announces 360-degree lenses for range of devices
CCS Insight: ImmerVision has correctly identified the need for user-generated content to boost sales of VR headsets and equipment. It is working on developing miniature 360-degree camera units for devices including smartphones, wearables, drones and automobiles. The work builds on the company’s 13-year experience in 360-degree imaging technology.

Epson announces Moverio BT-300 augmented reality glasses
CCS Insight: This is a third-generation product for Epson and it comes at a critical time when a number of early tech-adopter enterprises are considering deploying augmented reality (AR) technology in their operations. Epson will have to compete with products from Google, Vuzix and others.

WakingApp launches software for easy creation of AR and VR content
CCS Insight: The democratization of content creation and the emergence of uses beyond gaming are major factors in our expectations for massive growth in sales of AR and virtual reality (VR) devices. ENTiTi Creator is very ambitious: it aims to create compatible content for all VR devices, from cheap Google Cardboard headsets to high-end dedicated systems like the Oculus Rift. We expect more tools and platforms for content creation to emerge, including some targeted at consumers.

Internet of Things

Intel and AT&T will test drones on LTE network
CCS Insight: This is an important step not just in making connected drones a commercial reality but in understanding the unique network challenges and characteristics inherent in providing secure, low-latency, high-availability WAN connectivity.

TeliaSonera and ZTE to cooperate on Internet of things
CCS Insight: Connected “things” represent a huge opportunity for Europe’s network operators, and several are vying to influence the development of standards in this area. This move, which will initially focus on telematics, echoes efforts by Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefonica to build platforms for the Internet of things.

Ford unveils Kuga 3
CCS Insight: The launch of a new car model at Mobile World Congress would once have seemed incongruous. The appearance of Ford’s SUV confirms the GSMA’s vision for the event that “mobile is everything”. Ford also confirmed that its Sync 3 technology will come to Europe.

AT&T partners with Cisco, Intel and Microsoft to offer integrated IoT service for developers
CCS Insight: No single player has the complete range of assets necessary to be competitive in the Internet of things. This means that partnerships will be crucial. To this end, AT&T is wise to ensure it has a broad range of development tools on offer for its community of over 10,000 developers.

Harman announces new partners for connected car ecosystem
CCS Insight: This announcement follows the launch of Harman’s service delivery platform and will enable partners to accelerate the delivery of services from leading providers. These services span a broad range of segments from entertainment to location-based services, highlighting the growing sophistication of connected car services.

ZTE showcases multiple access prototype to support massive IoT data
CCS Insight: Multi-user shared access (MUSA) will enable the number of users connected to a network to increase by up to six times. This will be crucial to delivering the uses for the Internet of things being pledged with 5G and a network resilience sufficient for the significant big data opportunities it will afford.

Enterprise Mobility

Samsung announces enterprise device programme
CCS Insight: The move reflects the much-needed collaboration between Google and Samsung in the enterprise market. Confusion about the relationship between Android for Work and the Knox security platform, and a lack of formal update controls, held back Android adoption in large organisations in 2015. Its new programme will remove some of these barriers for Samsung in the enterprise market.

Mantu unveils peer-to-peer messaging platform for enterprises
CCS Insight: Mantu’s solution meets the need for highly secure peer-to-peer messaging within the enterprise. Given the increasing volumes of network attacks and the need for contained peer-to-peer communication, Mantu’s platform ensures data remains encrypted and secure even in the event of a compromised network.


Facebook announces Telecom Infra Project
CCS Insight: This is a unique initiative that sees a new level of cooperation between operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators, Web and content companies to deliver networks that can scale and drive faster innovation. It is a reassuring sign that at least at certain levels the technology industry is beginning to work collaboratively rather than getting mired in conflicting business models.

Orange and Google sign deal to increase mobile Internet access in Africa and Middle East
CCS Insight: The agreement also sees the unveiling of the Orange Rise 31 Special Edition Android smartphone, which will be used to offer Google-curated local services. This is a logical approach for both companies. Google gets to ensure broad visibility of Google content and services; Orange can offer an attractive tariff incorporating device and service.

China Mobile and ZTE launch 5G-orientated future network architecture
CCS Insight: As expected, China Mobile and ZTE are among those leading the charge on 5G at Mobile World Congress 2016. This presentation of a 5G network architecture is a necessary step forward given the importance of network slicing to deliver quality of service on a broad range of applications and services.

NTT DoCoMo and MediaTek sign deal for 5G development and trials
CCS Insight: MediaTek has been quiet about its plans for 5G to date so this is an important collaboration with an operator that is set to be at the forefront of 5G development and network commercialization. It should give MediaTek a platform for more proactive communication of its vision for 5G.

ZTE and China Mobile announce 5G high-frequency prototype
CCS Insight: High-frequency spectrum will be essential to deliver the throughput and quality of experience that will be expected of 5G networks. This will necessitate the use of technologies such as MU-MIMO and beamforming to overcome the propagation challenges associated with high-frequency spectrum. Early-phase prototyping will be an important part of the standards-forming process.

Amdocs signs deal with Adobe and frog to develop products for service providers
CCS Insight: This is a reflection of the major transformation facing telecom providers. Consumers are demanding more from their devices and their providers, and we are seeing a shift in the way they sign up to services. They want a consistent experience across all screens, and providers need to ensure they can meet these challenges.

Amdocs announces IoT monetization platform
CCS Insight: This is a significant announcement for the company. It has a long and proven heritage of serving telecom operator needs, especially in the consumer space. The announcement shows the importance of continuing to build on its existing relationships as operators try to generate revenue from the opportunities presented by the Internet of things in the consumer and enterprise markets.


MediaTek introduces Helio P20
CCS Insight: The Helio P20 underlines MediaTek’s commitment to move beyond the mid-low tier and into more margin-rich high-tier devices. However, connectivity represents MediaTek’s biggest challenge with a category 6 LTE modem unlikely to be enough to challenge options from Qualcomm at the high end of the smartphone market.

MediaTek unveils MT2511 for quantified self devices
CCS Insight: The MT2511 represents a further expansion of MediaTek’s platforms for wearables and the Internet of things. It represents a deeper investment into the healthcare space. Healthcare is a significant opportunity for wearables but requires substantial early investment to help develop the opportunity.

Spreadtrum announces SC9860 octa-core LTE chipset
CCS Insight: The SC9860 is Spreadtrum’s first 16 nm five-mode octa-core LTE platform and a hugely important launch for the company. It sees Spreadtrum targeting a move up the price curve into the mid-tier and represents a challenge to MediaTek’s position in entry-level LTE. The SC9860 is a clear illustration of China’s determination to improve its position in the semiconductor supply chain.

Intel outlines its strategy and partnerships for 5G
CCS Insight: Intel has used Mobile World Congress to unveil its strategy for 5G networks. It faces a challenge thanks to the perception of a weaker position in LTE than Qualcomm and others. But partnerships with Ericsson, KT, Nokia, SK Telecom and Verizon, coupled with its 5G mobile trial platform, underline Intel’s commitment to the next-generation technology.

Intel launches a range of wireless modems for IoT and smartphones
CCS Insight: Intel’s position remains challenged in smartphones, but the launch of five modems for Internet of things applications illustrates where Intel’s strategic focus lies as it redefines what mobile and 5G mean for the company. The launch of the XMM7480 modem reinforces Intel’s commitment to smartphones; market and technology challenges mean the Internet of things is the bigger opportunity and priority.

Imagination launches low-cost PowerVR Series 8XE graphics unit
CCS Insight: This is a crucially important launch for Imagination Technologies given recent pressures and the need for a more keenly priced product that can respond to ARM’s dominant Mali solution. The balance of features (including Vulkan API support) with price shows that Imagination is taking a necessarily combative approach in an effort to win back mass-market smartphone designs.