I asked Fujitsu’s Robert Pryke to give us a view on his top trends for Mobile World Congress. Robert is director for Fujitsu’s mobile phone business in Europe.
Over to you Robert…
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Apple transformed our perception of the mobile phone; while once those words evoked the image of a ‘brick’ with a small screen, large keyboard and aerial poking out of the top, we now perceive a slim slab of glass with the minimum of buttons and a large, touchable screen. While this design’s usability benefits speak for themselves through mass manufacturer adoption, design differentiation and creativity has been limited by the desire for understated simplicity.
This year, handset differentiation – or how to make one shiny black slab stand out from the rest – looks set to be key for manufacturers. Expect waterproofing, extreme form factors, innovations in sound quality, screen clarity and ruggedness.
If you’d told us five years ago that quad-core processor technology – then an impressive feat even in the desktop PC arena – would be in pocket-sized mobile phones in 2012, we’d have questioned your sanity somewhat. This year, with Fujitsu, Huawei and LG all announcing handsets with a quad-core processor, we’ll be happily eating our words; consumers are fed up with their mobile phone providing a third-rate, cut-down version of the experience they’re used to on their home computer.
We no longer want to have to compress our HD movies into a pixelated mess in order to get them to play on our smartphones, nor do we want to play games that look like they came out ten years ago. Quad-core offers the cutting edge experience consumers now demand – and it’s clear that handset manufacturers are taking it very seriously.
M-health apps on their own aren’t particularly new, but awareness amongst users of the ways in which smartphones can be used to better manage illnesses and help patients cope is growing, and some manufacturers are responding to this, implementing advanced, human-centric technology into handsets that can do everything from determining sleeping patterns to measuring calorie intake and automatically adapting sound to match a user’s age and hearing ability. M-Health is transforming the smartphone from a simple device to a companion which helps to keep the user healthy; The Times reported earlier this week, for example, that GPs are using smartphone apps for patients suffering with diabetes and depression.
4. Mobile payments
NFC has been around for a while, with swipe-payment technology embedded in credit cards, but uptake has been reasonably slow. However, recent announcements, such as Barclays’ Pingit service and Samsung and Visa’s London 2012 Olympics mobile payment app, have sent it soaring to the top of the industry’s agenda. The ability to send and receive cash through your mobile phone is another step forward in the smartphone becoming a single point of life management for people, and is likely to permanently alter the way many users handle their money.
Operators continue to seek new sources of revenue and to strip out costs. We can expect to see those with a global footprint looking to concentrate and leverage their buying power via centralised purchasing and a narrowing of their portfolio. We should also see far more imaginative tariffing options as they look to the deployment of LTE and the continued migration of customers from feature phones to smartphones. Customer retention, especially high value customers will become of paramount importance.
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Thanks for this Robert — very good points! It’s shaping up to be a very exciting event.
I should point out too that although we’ve heard the big news from Fujitsu already (that they’re bringing smartphones to Europe), it’s conceivable that we might get a physical look at the company’s quad-core handset that was just a prototype a few months ago at CES. Here’s hoping!