Author(s): Geoff Blaber
This is the fourth 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.
Xiaomi unveils Mi 5 smartphone
CCS Insight: The latest flagship from Xiaomi is its most premium device to date and features high-end specifications including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset and a ceramic body. Positioned at an affordable price of about $355 before tax, it poses a formidable challenge to rival high-end devices. However, international expansion beyond current markets remains a challenge for Xiaomi as smartphone growth slows.
Jolla slips out Aqua Fish smartphone and mi-Fone partnership
CCS Insight: The Aqua Fish is being delivered in partnership with Intex Technologies and is the first device to use a licensed version of Jolla's Sailfish OS. Jolla also announced a partnership in Africa with mi-Fone. Jolla faces a stiff challenge from an abundance of aggressively priced Android devices but the quest for differentiation demonstrates there are still pockets of opportunity.
Oppo introduces Super VOOC charging technology
CCS Insight: The Chinese handset manufacturer is following a trend of smartphone quick-charging technology reflected in moves by the likes of Qualcomm and Huawei. Oppo claims its technology brings a full charge in 15 minutes. Instead of opting for a larger battery in devices, quick charging is a favoured solution for manufacturers as it addresses many challenges posed by battery life while maintaining slim product profiles.
Internet of Things
Nissan "unboxes" new Leaf car
CCS Insight: The presentation of the car emerging from a box like a new smartphone emphasizes the merging of the mobile and automotive worlds. The move reinforces CCS Insight's view that Mobile World Congress and International CES are on a collision course as both shows compete for industry attention in a proliferation of mobile and Internet of things products.
Ericsson and Volvo show advances in connected cars
CCS Insight: The two companies presented semi-pilot autonomous driving technology, which allows a connected car to drive by itself while the driver is free to do other tasks. The announcement sees Volvo joining the leaders in autonomous driving; it further underlines the progression of the connected car industry. Volvo's planned incorporation of 5G technology into connected cars will help its growth in the area.
Nokia raises $350 million investment fund for the Internet of things
CCS Insight: The launch of a $350 million investment fund from Nokia Growth Partners underlines the interest and potential in multiple segments of the Internet of things. This means Nokia Growth Partners now has over $500 million in fresh capital. We expect a raft of investments in the next few years as connectivity, analytics, big data and machine learning create opportunities and disruption across several industries.
BlackBerry to offer solutions via Microsoft's Azure
CCS Insight: BlackBerry's partnership with Microsoft means enterprises can now install and manage BlackBerry's BES12 through the Azure cloud platform without the need for their own IT infrastructure. This is a logical step given the transition of enterprise mobility management solutions from deployment on premises to the cloud.
BlackBerry launches professional cyber-security services practice
CCS Insight: BlackBerry has sharpened its core point of differentiation in security with a professional cyber-security practice that spans advisory, technical support and threat detection and analysis. This could become a significant business in its own right as well as dovetailing with BlackBerry's own enterprise services portfolio in mobile and the Internet of things.
Sikur showcases secure enterprise communications platform
CCS Insight: Sikur, maker of the "unhackable" GranitePhone, has broadened its offering to Android and iOS devices with the release of its secure communications platform as a stand-alone package. It encrypts messaging services, file sharing, chats, e-mail and group chats. This expansion is a necessary move: the GranitePhone may appeal to those with extreme security needs, but IT managers will prefer products that work with already deployed devices and operating systems.
Verizon and Nokia conduct live 5G trial
CCS Insight: Nokia joins Ericsson and Cisco Systems as lead partners in Verizon's ambitious timeline for 5G deployment, starting in 2017. The completion of a field trial in Dallas-Fort Worth by delivering 4K video content over Verizon's metroplex network underlines the speed at which Verizon is moving toward its 2017 goal. With such an aggressive timeline, close cooperation with standards bodies will be essential to avoid fragmenting and disrupting the 5G specification process.
Nokia and T-Mobile USA collaborate on 5G testing
CCS Insight: Nokia is furthering its close collaboration with T-Mobile USA on LTE with the announcement that it is developing a pre-standards 5G test network for laboratory and field trials in the second half of 2016. This follows a similar deal between Ericsson and T-Mobile USA announced at Mobile World Congress earlier in the week. It underlines the range of infrastructure partnerships associated with 5G deployment.
China Mobile and Nokia demo 5G-connected robot
CCS Insight: This is a compelling demonstration of the vision for 5G technology, which, contrary to misconceptions, is not solely about speed and throughput. To deliver the envisioned world of the Internet of things and connected machines, networks will have to have high capacity and ultralow latency and so deliver real-time instructions and responses.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 powers device launches from LG, Samsung and Xiaomi
CCS Insight: Mobile World Congress has been a showcase of design wins for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 chipset, with leading device launches from LG, Samsung and Xiaomi all using the silicon. This is a strong endorsement of the product and underlines Qualcomm's leadership position. Nonetheless, market dynamics, including Apple's dominance of the high tier, verticalization and assertive pricing from MediaTek and others in the low and mid-tiers remain significant challenges.
Huawei strikes global partnership on 5G innovations
CCS Insight: Huawei's global 5G partnerships with over 20 operators and 10 industry partners is a reassuring sign of industry collaboration on 5G. This will be essential if the industry is to avoid the mistakes of previous technology generations that resulted in mass fragmentation of standards and spectrum. A harmonized approach is essential with 5G and will demand early and ongoing collaboration through the standards process.
Qualcomm and Ericsson collaborate on 5G
CCS Insight: The collaboration between leading infrastructure and chipset players is critical if 5G is going to successfully follow a smooth standardisation process as the 3GPP targets the first 5G specification in Release 15 in 2018. The sharing of approaches and findings from field trials will be particularly critical in light of the ambitious deployment timelines by some operators before that date.