Economy sad, but gadget happy!
ou know it is a big, successful, show when the organizers publish the show’s statistics and send them to one and all within two or three days of closing – together with an exhibitor’s sign-up form for the next year. This year’s CommunicAsia (June 17-20, 2008 in Singapore) was a big successful show. CommunicAsia is really a collection of events; it incorporates MobileCommAsia, NetworkAsia and SatComm and runs concurrently with EnterpriseIT, InteractiveDME, CG Overdrive and BroadcastAsia. It is a remarkable, steadily maturing event – one of the world’s best regional events. It is just what a trade show should be.
As a trade show, it is full of equipment that makes possible the services we count on and the entertainment we see. The show abounds in equipment for operators, service providers, infrastructure devices and equipment, services and applications for businesses. The computer graphics are spectacular, but made for professionals and the broadcast filming, lighting, sound and special effects equipment are not made to lug along on your vacation – you would need a crew of professionals to run them and a truck for transport.
Since the show’s organizers were so eager to send their statistics, let me give you a few. Lots of space; 69 thousand square meters and enough stands for 2,307 exhibitors; this may not be as big as, say, CeBit, but if you want to see it all, you will be limping by the time you have walked your way around to all the stands.
The conferences at CommunicAsia and its associated events are also big, much too big for one to attend more than a small part of the speeches and panels. The conferences are a bit old fashioned – long on people who have been around for years running the sector, and short on the star-turn executive keynoters that are so much in fashion at this sort of show – a lot more substance than flash.
The major issues at the conference included, as one would expect, the tendency to move past 3G wireless into 4G – WiMAX, LTE – in the hopes of getting a less expensive, future proof, revenue generator. Most seem to agree that, although 3G brings real benefits, 4G will enable a far greater range of services and revenue opportunities. The speeches and discussions revolved around network convergence and rollout in any flavour you like – fibre, copper, wireless, Ethernet, satellite .., green telecom and energy use reduction (an increasingly important topic at shows lately), number portability, and ad-supported services among others; indeed the sector’s leading concerns, no matter where in the world you go, were all heavily debated at the show.
Most people come to see that part of the show dedicated to their own special professional interest, but everyone likes the latest in consumer gadgets. So, despite the conferences and the thousands of exhibits, for many, the real stars of the show are the latest consumer devices. Since the show is in Asia, the world centre for bleeding edge mobile technology users, the latest cell phones were what much of the public and the press were looking at.
Remember satellite phones? Well, they are back in sleek, lightweight packages – no more suitcase or brick-sized phones. So if you live on top of a mountain, are trudging through the Amazon or canoeing across the Atlantic either of Thuraya’s new satellite phones will help you keep in touch SO-2510 (130 grams) or the SG-2520 (180 grams) with a standard GSM phone, a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth and USB. Now where can I recharge it?
For those of you that miss the great big phones – how can you live without them? – the Chinese Yealink IP Media Phone, billed as a teleconferencing device is exactly what you have been looking for. It is a VoIP phone that can also handle up to six regular phone lines. Closed, it is the size of a really small laptop; open, it doubles its size and sports a seven inch screen to display several video formats, including MPEG-4, IPTV and Video-on-Demand. The Yealink has a keyboard and comes with a Web browser for surfing, email, SMS and instant messaging. I didn’t ask about its wireless capabilities, and since the phone has yet to be released I couldn’t find it on the Net – maybe, if my Chinese was better…
The Garmin nuvifone (whatever that means) is reversing the paradigm – instead of stuffing more goodies into a cellphone or Swiss Army knife, they dropped a mobile phone into their GPS device. If the call isn’t clear, it can give you maps and directions to the nearest payphone. I have no idea how practical this is or how well it works, but I like their go-for-broke courage. It’s got a good looking touch-screen display too.
Touch-screens have become really hot since the iPhone became the ear-cover fashion of the moment; all the major handset makers have them on some models, and IPhone look alikes, such as the new Samsung Omnia or the LG Prada and Voyager phones, among others, abound.
There has been talk of DVB-H and DVB-S mobile TV handsets for years; this year there was more than talk. There were a number of DVB models at the show. LG announced what they called the world first DVB-T (terrestrial) mobile TV phone, the LG-HB620T. With this phone, users can watch DVB-T digital broadcasts for free; no subscriptions are required.
Alcatel-Lucent and SpeedCast Ltd announced a shared, hosted, DVB-H solution for mobile TV at the show. The solution includes encryption technology and encoding into a DVB-H compatible format “for satellite delivery to terrestrial infrastructure and a very large number of TV channels”. This will compete with Nokia’s DVB-H solution. Nokia already has a DVB-H pilot project going on in Stockholm. Hughes and STE were also among the many that made announcements regarding DVB networks and/or introduced new equipment.
Operators in many parts of the world are getting ready for this new form of mobile TV, so we can expect the handset manufacturers to announce a great many large-screen models with DVB ready antennas in the coming year.
There was much more, of course, lots of great phones and features, but what I liked best was the carbon fibre and tempered glass case for LG’s Secret KF750. I keep my mobile in my pocket together with keys, pens, loose change a pocket knife and various other odds and ends; it doesn’t take long before my mobile phone looks as though I’ve dragged it on a string behind my car. Carbon fibre might be equal to the challenge.
Display technology, including 3D, was much in evidence. The drive for bigger screens and higher definition topped-out this year with NHK’s ultra-high-definition, super large, display. The 6.6 meter x 3.7 meter, 300-inch, projection screen boasts 32 megapixel resolution 16 times the resolution of today’s commercial 1080p HD leader and far better than my eyes nowadays. Two projectors with a total of 8,000 lumens and an ear-popping, multi-channel 24 speaker sound system. NHK had to develop special high-resolution cameras and sound recorders to record the content.
Google talked-up its Android platform at the show. A number of software developers, semiconductor companies and handset manufacturers including HTC, Samsung and Motorola have joined Google’s Open Handset Alliance. I didn’t see the touch screen phone they used at the show, but I am told it resembles an existing HTC model. Since its main screen display is larger than the screen, you have to finger-push it around to see the part that interests you. It comes with about 20 Google applications including YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps. Android can run several applications at a time, but to save energy, background applications are ‘frozen’ until called up again.
Google put up US$10 million in awards to encourage developers to submit their apps. Two college students wrote Enkin, one of the winners; it uses the phone’s camera and its GPS chip to ‘provide a… real-time, real-world navigation experience. It tags the names of what you see through the mobile phone’s camera by using GPS location technology.
If there was any gloom at the show, it was about the world’s weakening economy and the impact this is likely to have on the sector. They might have been a bit sad about the economy, but ‘most everyone at the show was incurably gadget happy.
Our next Connect-World India Issue will be published later this month. This edition of Connect-World will be widely distributed to our reader base and, as well, at shows where we are one of the main media sponsors such as: India Telecom, New Delhi (11-13 December) and Convergence India, New Delhi (19-21 March 2009).
The theme for this issue will be: Seamless networks and seamless business in a seamless world.
Technologically, if not politically, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected, interdependent and interoperable. Few if any big companies are ‘national’ in the old sense; they no longer exist, work buy supplies and services and sell within the boundaries of a single nation. Supply chains and processes of all sorts reach into other nations and at times circle the globe crossing and interacting with one another, first in one nation than another, in subtle and complex ways.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in India, where broadband connectivity has, seemingly overnight, reinvented the country’s economy and re-written its future. More than just outsourcing, taking over existing processes in behalf of companies in other parts of the world, India is increasingly sourcing its own processes, its own technologies and products.
The speed and seamless interconnection and interoperability of the world’s networks, both wired and wireless, using a wide variety of transmission media and technologies, is now so common it is rarely noticed by the user, but much of India’s growth depends upon just this. This effortless connectivity makes possible the seamless interoperability of business processes and supply chains spread throughout the world. Today’s technology is inventing a seamless, global, work environment that might, one day, lead to a seamless world.
This issue of Connect-World India will explore the influence of information and communication technology upon the transformation of India, and how India is itself transforming the technology and processes and helping create a seamless world.
India 2008 Media Pack; Click here