Feature Article

January 05, 2013

Mobility TechZone Week in Review

It's a new year finally, and what better way to get us started with it than by looking at the key wireless infrastructure trends for 2013? The chief concern for many in 2013 will be deploying the right technologies and strategies to survive and thrive during the mobile data boom that is set to continue into 2013 and beyond. This means increasing capacity, managing spectral efficiency and improving the cost-per-bit ratio.

Another issue we will care increasingly about in 2013 is wireless network speed. Everyone wants to lay claim to owning the fastest network, yet most networks cannot deliver anywhere near their claimed speeds. The reality is that we are now entering a race for the fastest mobile networkBut no one really knows who will win and whether that victory will be everything it should be.

While infrastructure issues and mobile network speeds are critical pieces of the puzzle, perhaps nothing is more critical than being able to deliver on the right mix of mobile data services. In fact, in 2013 mobile data services will take on a key role in shaping the future of mobility.That is a big statement to make, but it is entirely true.

Here are a couple of other very interesting numbers that are worth knowing. As we head into 2013, we can look back on 2012 as the first real year of LTE. 103 million 4G LTE mobile devices shipped in 2012! That is a lot of new LTE hardware, yet it is only the tip of the iceberg. That number is impressive enough, but is anyone aware that a billion new cameras showed up in 2012 - and in the most unlikely places. That is quite a record for digital cameras - heck, it’s a record for any kind of camera!

If that isn't surprising enough, here is another surprise of sorts - Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has received a patent for a smartphone airbag. That is not a joke, it's very real. We can't wait to see how it may be applied - or who might license it from Bezos. It all kind of makes sense when you think about it - we would love for our iPhone 4S to have an airbag!

If the smartphone airbag doesn't excite you perhaps the cool idea Instabridge has come up with will. As with most anybody we know, you probably hate going through the effort of having to share your home's Wi-Fi connection - not because you are a curmudgeon but simply because of the usual hassle of having to find the password (or guest password - it doesn't matter, they're both always hidden away somewhere). By the time you are 15 minutes into your search you are ready to toss your friend's device and possibly your friend out the door. Instabridge has a better idea - let it and Facebook do the work for you.

Well, let's modify that just a bit - your friends and relatives that use Android devices get to play. Instabridge provides a free Android app that everyone installs on their devices. Once installed you then sign on to the app using your Facebook credentials, and provide Instabridge with your network particulars. It will make note of your friends and when they in turn are in range of your network Instabridge logs them into your network without anyone needing to know the passwords.

Instabridge makes a lot of sense - but here is something that doesn't quite make sense to us - Sprint has a new subscriber pitch: Ditch the contract, skip the fancy subsidized phone, pay as you go. Why exactly is Sprint going down this path? Another thing that doesn't make a lot of sense to us is Samsung's ongoing pursuit of making the Tizen mobile operating system real. Concerning that strategy we need to ask: Is Samsung's desire to sell Tizen mobile devices dumb and dumber? We think so.

Here is something on the other hand that makes a great deal of sense, even if it may be happening two years too late - Nokia's rumored tablet is looking closer to being launched. It's about time. Nokia should have had this going out the door on the day it announced its first Windows 8 smartphones. Will a Nokia tablet have any sort of impact at this point? Probably not in the United States, but we suspect it may prove itself to be a solid European and Asia-Pac mobile device.

As Nokia finally gets around to doing something it should already have done, Research in Motion (RIM) is moving to unwind something it should never have done. Back in 2011, when the company was still in a massively confused state of mind it decided to acquire NewBay, a mobile cloud vendor, in order to be able to offer completive cloud-based products. Sadly, RIM is closing out 2012 (or looking ahead to 2013 depending on your perspective) by now selling NewBay off. It acquired the company for $100 million and is now selling it to Synchronoss Technologies for $55.5 million. It's good news for NewBay in any case. Not only do its original owners get to keep the original RIM dollars, but NewBay's technology will now likely live to see another morning.

We'll wrap up the week by noting that ABI Research suggests that by 2016 the annual revenue for ultra-low-power wireless connectivity - also known as Bluetooth Smart will to grow to over $2 billion. Bluetooth has had a steady if improbably slow growth rate, but with Bluetooth Smart, which represents a quantum leap over current Bluetooth capabilities, the odds for market success increase significantly.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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