The world's tech enthusiasts are focused on all things mobile this week as Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicked off on Monday in Barcelona, Spain.
As the latest devices and services are being unveiled at MWC, many are wondering what's next in mobile beyond 2013. Just how much smarter can our smartphones be in the future? On the network and data side, others are wondering what the emergence of LTE and the proliferation of high power connectivity mean to how we use mobile devices?
The Intel Booth at MWC 2013
In the wake of MWC, iQ recently sat down with Hermann Eul, manager of Intel's mobile and communications group and Aicha Evans, Intel Mobile Wireless GM. We discussed where these mobile experts see the future of mobile and how Intel is playing a key role in accelerating innovation in the mobile space.
Both Hermann and Aicha possess unique line of sight into the horizon of mobile communications. Aicha expertise is in wireless networks and she'll provide a rapid fire overview of the basics of LTE and what is means to the consumer. Hermann will speak to the future of mobile devices and discuss his take on everything from mobile security to how smartphones can play a vital role in the "internet of things."
What's Future of Mobile Devices?
Hermann Eul, Intel Mobile & Communications Group Manager
Intel's CEO, Paul Otellini cleverly said, "Smartphones are getting smarter, not phonier." What does this inevitable trend mean for the processing power of smartphones in the face of thinner and smaller designs? Can technology keep up with our needs and demands for faster, yet more sleek devices?
Hermann: Over the past 5 years there has been an amazing amount of innovation across the phone landscape in fact I think innovation has just begun. Our definition of what is sleek today may change tomorrow,. While it is true that phones have gotten thinner – screen size is growing the footprint of devices today. As people begin to see their smartphones as are more and more like computers they will demand on more and more performance. As phones get smarter, the usage models will change with the performance capability available to developers and service providers -- the innovation spiral continues upward, climbing to new levels. With the performance available to smartphones over the next few years, dreams like true personalization, location services, predictive abilities, not yet imagined services and experiences all become real. It is hard to say for sure what will happen, but I don’t see consumers walking away from exciting new usages. At Intel we are building roadmaps that increase the level of performance, platform level innovation for the world’s best developers to take advantage of and unleash all of these new services to the world.
We live in a multi-device world. It is not uncommon for consumers today to have a laptop, tablet and phone in their bags. How can the smartphone co-exist better with our other devices? How can the relationship become more personal?
Hermann: I believe the smartphone is quickly become the center of our lives, soon to be more personal and therefore must “relate” or “talk to” our other devices and our networks. Cloud services are a key part of making the connection between our devices and our increasingly mobile life. The smartphone will be our digital eyes and ears, and will relay that information to the cloud, to our service providers of any kind and share information real time with other devices, directly through application and wireless connections. One of the benefits of Intel Architecture is our ability to optimize a single experience across devices and with Intel in all of your devices, we will really be able to connect them in new ways, sharing information about you as a user so all of your devices can better deliver for consumers.
There's been a lot of talk about this so called "Internet of Things" trend where in the not too distant future, virtually all of our devices, household items, and even clothes will be connected via a network connection. What role can smartphones play in the "Internet of Everything?" Can smartphones soon become the remote control for your life?
Hermann: For sure – I think that mobile computing is in so many ways the remote control for your life and the smartphone is your window. In the same way I mentioned the smartphone is your eyes and ears, intelligently providing information like your preferences, your location, your choices and preferences, and relaying that for your preferred services can deliver for you. Above we talked about tablets, smartphones and laptops, the internet of things extends that to computing as part of many of the things you come in contact with every day, like your car, your home security system, your refrigerator, and many other elements of our daily life. If the smartphone is the connection point it will help you manage your life, your devices, your health, your family, and your job.
Whether it be family photos or an account number for our mobile banking app, our smartphones hold some of most precious data inside of them. Because of this, mobile security is a big concern for consumers today. What can be done to create a more secure smartphone while maintaining a positive user experience?
Hermann: Security is an increasingly important topic in the smartphone world. I wish more consumers were aware and took more steps to secure their personal information and were educated on the growing trend. Internally to Intel and through our subsidiary McAfee we have made many advancements in mobile security from applications that limit spyware, lock critical information if a phone is stolen and help improve security of mobile banking. So far we believe these improve the utility of the smartphone and provide a more positive user experience.
Many of the high-end smartphones cost $400-$650, which price many consumers out of the market. What do you think the prospects are for low cost models that can provide a rich smartphone experience at an economical price?
Hermann: We have provided ultra low cost, ultra slim solutions for phones for years through our mobile communications business, bringing new capabilities to over one billion people through our SoC (systems of chip). There is a tremendous opportunity that exists in this segment of the market ($100 - $200) as more and more people get connected to the internet through their first entry smartphone. This is the fastest growing segment and we believe consumers will begin to see more and more value and new experiences. Earlier this year we introduced a new Atom™ smartphone platform for this segment that brings great performance for quick Web browsing, multimedia and applications, these are high-end smartphone capabilities at more cost conscious price points. Safaricom in Kenya and Acer in Thailand have already launched devices and there will be more introductions to come. We believe this is a sweet spot for the market and as Intel expands its footprint and geographic presence we see tremendous opportunity in bringing a rich IA (Intel Architecture) mobile experience with a goal of enabling more cost-conscious devices without sacrificing device performance or user experience.
Lightening Round: What's LTE & Why Does It Matter?
Aicha Evans, Intel Mobile Wireless General Manager
So Everyone knows that it is faster and bettter than 3G, but what exactly is LTE?
Aicha: Long Term Evolution, commonly referred to as 4G, it is a standard for high speed wirlesss communications. It is the future of wireless communications and it is happening now.
Ok, so now that we know what it is, why does LTE matter to the consumer?
Aicha: LTE matters because it is broadband to the world. As Intel focuses on being a compute company, we must never forget that everything that computes connects. And the first point of connection for most people is wireless.
In a nutshell, what's Intel’s design and engineering approach to wireless at very top level?
Aicha: First, we are very involved in standard bodies to help guide and drive technology forward. From an research and development perspective, we have solid hardware and software partitioning, including leading RF and integration capabilities, best KPI’s (cost, power, performance, stability) with global SKU’s and first rate customer support.
What wakes you up in the morning and gets you most excited about what will come from Intel in the near future?
Aicha: I’m excited to be part of one of very few companies that can deliver breakthrough experiences in the compute and connect space, worldwide. This is truly about enriching people’s lives.
Ok, so we may know LTE is faster than 3G or 2G but what's something most people don’t know about LTE? Is it all about speed?
Aicha: It’s not just about LTE and pure speed. It is also about interworking with 3G, 2G, the established and traditional cellular networks of today.