The future of smartphones

Chris Caceres · March 18, 2009 · Short URL:

Marcelo Vieira, GM of smartphone business for Texas Instruments, thoughts and predictions

 It’s no doubt Apple’s iPhone is a big challenge and product to live up to for the rest of the  Smartphone industry.  With its software, hardware, operating system and overall technology, Apple has created an entirely proprietary Smartphone.  The challenge for the rest of the players in the Smartphone industry is- how do you expand upon this proprietary platform?

Marcelo Vieira is a key player in this industry.  He’s currently the GM of Smartphone Business for Texas Instruments.  At his keynote during the Dow Jones 2009 Wireless Innovations Conference, which is taking place this week in Redwood City, Ca., he provided some words on how Texas Instruments will play a vital role in expanding the smart phone industry.

He began his keynote with a sobering statement.  Smartphones straight up failed growth projections.  Why?  Because they are simply too expensive for the majority of people.  Consumers can do most of the same things they can with regular phones (SMS, Email, Internet, Pictures, Video) as they can with a fancy Smartphone, he explained. 

So where does Texas Instruments come into the picture.  TI is one of the several developers of processors which go into Smartphones. TI has shipped more than 200 million OMAP processor units to date, according to Vieira.  To put OMAP into perspective, it can be found in the upcoming Palm Pre (seen above in photo).  Some of TI’s competitors include Intel, which is currently pushing its Atom processor designed for mobile devices, and Nvidia, which is just stepping into the industry with its inexpensive x80 chip for mobile devices.

So what does the future of Smartphones look like?
When asked to project 4-5 years into the future, Vieira said phones will have a variety of new and improved capabilities beyond what is offered now.  

-Playback of video in true High Definition via a built in projector, or HDMI outputs.  

-The pocket digital camera will become obsolete.  Smartphones of the near future will have the ability to shoot images with the same or better quality than a consumer digital camera.  

-Power will improve, with chips that adjust themselves based on performance.  For example, if you are simply reading an email, the processor will consume less energy than if you were watching a video or saving a photo.  

-A FULL web browsing experience.

-Smartphones will become easier to use with better interfacing between the phone and the computer, along with an easier GUI.

In the end Texas Instruments believes it will play a vital role in the future of Smartphones by developing better chips than what is available.  The decision of what capabilities get packed onto the chips will be based on the consumer and what applications most people are making use of.

(Vieira left. TI Developer phone on right) (Both photos taken with iPhone 3G)

(Updated to correct reference to OMAP processor shipments)


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