Ovum MWC comments: Sony + NSN + Alcatel Lucent + Pepcom’s MobileFocus + Nokia


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Sony revives old values as Xperia Tablet Z launches globally

Tony Cripps, devices and platforms analyst, Ovum

“Sony Mobile gave its Xperia Tablet Z a global launch at Mobile World Congress 2013 following an advanced launch with NTT Docomo in Japan in January. The Android-based device comes in both Wi-Fi-only and combined LTE/Wi-Fi versions and is expected to go on sale in May. Carrier partners have not yet been announced outside of Japan.The Xperia Tab is intended to restore Sony’s core values in the minds of consumers rather than change the tablet market status quo. The company only has modest expectations for sales of the device, which is very much aimed at the premium end of the tablet spectrum. It is certainly not cheap and has Apple’s iPad as its primary competition after all. However, in terms of design, build quality, features (including excellent sound and display), usability, and exclusivity, the Xperia Tab may prove to be a key product in Sony’s rebirth. This has been underway since the company brought the previously wayward Sony Mobile back into the fold following its acquisition of Ericsson’s share in the venture.

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“As a “halo” forming product, the Xperia is an excellent showcase for Sony’s revitalized Xperia smartphone range, especially the top of the range Xperia Z. It is also a valuable shop window for Sony’s premium content services. These are front and center of the device user experience and an important point of differentiation over the majority of its device rivals. Whether or not Sony can fully capitalize on its revived opportunity remains to be seen. However, its broad asset portfolio, which also includes the newly-launched PlayStation 4, should have increasing resonance with important segments of the broader consumer technology market.”

NSN wants the mobile base station to be ‘intelligent’ and store local content

Emeka Obiodu, telco strategy analyst, Ovum

“We attended NSN’s analyst and press event on Sunday where the vendor unveiled its Liquid Applications innovation. The new development will turn the base station into an intelligent cache store for frequently accessed local content. NSN CEO Rajeev Suri talked about how the innovation will enable telcos to deliver a better service and make their networks more efficient. NSN has also signed up IBM as a partner to deliver the mobile edge computing platform and is lining up a telco partner to be unveiled soon.

“NSN proclaims this as the biggest transformation in the role of the base station since the launch of GSM 22 years ago. This is true to an extent, although we note that NSN is not the first vendor to tout local caching at the base station. Much smaller vendors like Altobridge have developed similar local caching solutions.

“But this is still a big development for the mobile industry. Research consistently shows that consumers use their mobile phones predominantly when at home or in the office. Therefore, it is logical to map user preferences and provide local intelligence at the base station. This extension of intelligence from the core to the base station is thus something to watch in the next few years.”

Alcatel-Lucent looks to the future at MWC 2013

Daryl Schoolar, network infrastructure analyst, Ovum

“Sunday night’s Alcatel-Lucent analyst event was short on new product announcements but long on the promise of an improved company performance in the future. Much of the opening segment of the event was focused on the company’s financial results. It was very honest in placing some of the blame for its current situation on its past struggles in meeting changes within the optical and mobile broadband markets.

“Thereafter, like most vendors at the show this year, Alcatel-Lucent spent time discussing its network analytic wears, although on Sunday there were no new announcements in this area.

“A highlight of the event came at the end with a demo of eMBMS. The demo showed context-aware applications with the network pushing out applications specific to the end user’s location. It is still a few years away, but showed a promising application for video over LTE.”

Is wireless charging ready to hit the mainstream?

Emeka Obiodu, telco strategy analyst, Ovum

“At Pepcom’s MobileFocus on Sunday, there was an array of wireless power solutions for charging mobile phones. We visited the stands of the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and the Alliance for Wireless Power, which both had interesting demonstrations on how this will work.
The good news is that the technology is gaining traction in the industry. The Qi standard has been finalized since 2010 and the WPC is made up of major industry players, including telcos, device manufacturers, and vendors. There are already devices enabled for wireless charging from the likes of Samsung, Nokia, LG, and HTC, and then there are other clever implementations, such as dongle-type plugins that can convert every phone to use wireless power.

“Efficiency remains a concern and the risk of interference is bound to delay regulatory approval. For example, authorities in Japan demanded to test the wireless charging solution for interference with over 50 different pacemakers. However, for a technology that needs a single voice to advocate its adoption, we are still not sure why more than one industry association is needed.”

Nokia’s Lumia range refreshes the parts that other Windows Phones cannot reach

Tony Cripps, devices and platforms analyst, Ovum

“The launch of the Lumia 520 and 720 smartphones creates a five-strong family of Nokia Windows Phone smartphones, filling in important gaps between the flagship Lumia 920 and the well-received Lumia 620.

The new Lumias leave Nokia with nowhere to hide in terms of industry scrutiny, with devices now covering most bases in terms of price points, connectivity, and segmentation.

A full range of Lumia devices is essential to Nokia’s ambitions to claw back the market share that it has lost since Symbian’s fall from grace. The Lumia 520 and 720 are also vital to Microsoft’s ambitions for Windows Phone, with Nokia clearly providing the beacon and catalyst for the platform.

However, creating a virtuous circle of supply and demand will be vital if the partners are to truly drive uptake and market acceptance after a slow start. This will require an even greater marketing push and more focus on retail outlets than we’ve seen to date. It will also be necessary to avoid the supply problems that took the shine off the Lumia 920, which has otherwise proved itself popular with reviewers.

This will be helped by Nokia’s continued investment in materials and build quality, which shine through, especially in the Lumia 720.”

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