Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Numerous Applications for Smart Structural Electronics

Structural electronics (SE) is one of the most important technological developments of this century. It forms a key part of the dream -- formulated decades ago -- of computing disappearing into the fabric of society. It will become a component of the evolving Internet of Everything phenomenon.

It also addresses a dream of Thomas Edison in 1880 -- that electricity should be made where it is needed. SE is often biomimetic -- it usefully imitates nature in ways not previously feasible. And, it's a rapidly growing multi-billion dollar business.

Structural electronics involves electronic and/or electrical components and circuits that act as load-bearing, protective structures, replacing dumb structures such as vehicle bodies.

According to the latest market study by IDTechEx, in the near future aircraft -- and later automobiles -- will have a nervous system like a human being, instantly alerting to touch and damage.

Aircraft will have no passenger windows, instead displaying a moving color picture of what you would see from a window in the position where the window used to be, thanks to a smart inside to the fuselage - an imaginary window.

Bridges immediately warn of decay, load or earthquakes -- thanks to self-powered sensors sealed within them. Dance floors, stairs and the walkways in subways sometimes generate enough electricity to power signage and lighting because electronics sealed in the floor creates electricity from movement.

All this is structural electronics, a large new market that was recently assessed  by IDTechEx. Their study resulted in a forecast for structural electronics and for its key enabling technologies employed or envisaged -- such as printed electronics. Electric vehicles particularly need structural electronics so their numbers were forecast for the next ten years, in 37 categories.

The technologies used now and in the future are assessed, from in-mold electronics to electronic 3D printing of load-bearing structures, structural metamaterials and energy harvesting such as structural photovoltaics. They are related to each other in the report with indication of maturity and potential.

A spectacular future awaits, with even the body of a washing machine acting as the controls, there being no separate components and connections. Aircraft are being developed that stay aloft on nothing more than sunshine thanks to structural solar cells in the whole wing and elsewhere.

Large boats circumnavigate the world on sunshine thanks to solar decks, solar roads are being developed and car bodies that store electricity thanks to structural super-capacitors are being trialed. Smart skin on vehicles, buildings and other structures is assessed in this comprehensive report.

Smart skin can increasingly perform many functions, including ubiquitous sensing, electricity generation, electricity storage and diversion of lightning strikes around aircraft made of insulating fiber composites. It will be possible to make the whole of a road vehicle glow in the dark, reducing accidents.

On a smaller scale, it has been shown that the protective insulation on cabling can be replaced with structural electronics and dumb printed circuit boards are being made load-bearing and smart. A common factor is saving space, weight and cost while increasing reliability.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Big Data Application Development will Increase in 2014

Investment in big data technologies continues to expand, according to a recent market study by Gartner, which found that 73 percent of survey respondents have invested or plan to invest in big data in the next 24 months -- that's up from 64 percent in 2013.

Organizations are starting to move on their big data investment strategy. Moreover, the number stating they had no plans for big data investment fell from 31 percent in 2013 to 24 percent in 2014.

"Big data investment continues to be led by North America, with 47 percent of organizations reporting investment, which is up from 37.8 percent in 2013," said Nick Heudecker, research director at Gartner. "All other regions experienced increases in investment over the last year."

However, this increased investment has not led to an associated increase in organizations reporting deployed big data projects. Like 2013, much of the work today revolves around strategy development and the creation of pilots and experimental projects.

Gartner believes that 2013 was a year of big data experimentation and early deployment, and so is 2014. In 2013, only eight percent of organizations reported having big data projects deployed to production. This has increased to 13 percent in 2014.

However, the six percent drop in organizations still gathering knowledge about big data and the seven percent increase in pilots and experiments indicate that organizations are evolving in their understanding and willingness to explore big data opportunities.

According to the Gartner assessment, big data can help address a wide range of business problems across many industries and for the third year in their study, both enhancing the customer experience and improving process efficiency are the top areas to address.

The most dramatic changes are in enhancing customer experience, especially in transportation, healthcare, insurance, media and communications, retail, and banking. Another area where they see an increase is using big data to develop information products, where organizations are looking to monetize their data. This is especially true among IT vendors, government and manufacturing.

Gartner continues to see planned investments across all vertical industries as communications and media continuing to lead the pack, with 53 percent of organizations surveyed having already invested and a further 33 percent planning investments in big data technology.

The other year-to-year changes in the survey findings are a function of the adoption stage. As organizations move beyond knowledge gathering and developing a strategy to making investments, piloting and deploying, the challenges they face become more practical.

Those with no big data plans feel the big hurdles are determining how to get value from big data, defining a strategy, leadership or organizational issues, and some are still trying to understand big data.

In the planning stages, beyond determining value, the top challenges are obtaining skills and capabilities needed, defining strategy, obtaining funding, and beginning to think about infrastructure issues. Companies that are further along with investments must begin to address risk and governance issues, data integration and infrastructure.

When it comes to the volume, variety and velocity aspects of big data, volume received most of the focus. Increasing data volume is easily understandable: you're getting the same data you had before, but at massive scale. Volume is also the easiest to deal with by increasing storage and compute capacity.

On the other hand, data variety is far more challenging. Getting value from a variety of data sources, such as social media feeds, machine and sensor data, as well as free-form text, requires not only increased storage capacity, but also different tools and the skills to use them.

The challenges introduced by analyzing a variety of data sources may explain why most organizations are studying traditional data sources for their big data projects. Those organizations analyzing transactions increased from 70 percent in 2013 to 79 percent in 2014, while those analyzing log data fell slightly by two percent.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Upside for Fixed LTE Broadband Internet Access Market

There's no doubt, 4G LTE has turbocharged the Mobile Internet experience, which has reflected in rapid adoption of new smartphones along with other mobile devices. Besides, it has also reinvigorated the broadband wireless marketplace.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, 1.26 billion households do not have DSL, cable, or fiber-optic broadband. Fixed and mobile service providers are looking to LTE to make the connection.

"By the end of 2014, we anticipate there will be 14.5 million residential and commercial premises with fixed LTE broadband access. By 2019, that figure should grow to 123 million," said Jake Saunders, VP and 4G practice director at ABI Research.

Chipset and CPE technology vendors are stepping up efforts to prime the market by manufacturing lower cost devices for both the consumer and enterprise mobility segments.

Chinese vendors -- such as Huawei and ZTE -- along with American brands such as NETGEAR and Novatel Wireless have partnerships with North American carriers like Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and AT&T to provide exclusive LTE routers that utilize the carrier's individual 4G networks.

ABI Research forecasts the shipment numbers for residential LTE gateways and commercial LTE fixed wireless terminals to grow from 9.3 million in 2014 to nearly 44 million in 2019.

Fixed LTE broadband access is proving to be an add-on market opportunity for a number of mobile operators that were initially focused on the mobility market.

On the chipset front, Intel is keen to jostle for market share with the likes of Sequans, Qualcomm, and GCT. In June 2014, Intel and Lantiq announced the release of a Cat6 LTE 300 Mbps joint reference platform.

Integrated devices like LTE gateways and fixed wireless terminals help to provide a solution for users in rural areas to have access to high-speed Internet.

The ongoing CTIA Super Mobility Week has been featuring vendors showcasing their products that facilitate fixed BWA.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why Low-Cost Smartphones will Dominate this Decade

The smartphone is now a mainstream mobile communication device in the majority of regions across the globe. For some people, access to the mobile internet enabled their first encounter with the Global Networked Economy.

According to findings from their latest market study, Juniper Research now estimates that the number of smartphone shipments will approach 1.2 billion in 2014 -- that's an increase of 19 percent from the 985 million in 2013.

The global market is expected to be driven by growth in emerging markets, due to a continued surge in sales and adoption of low-cost Economy ($75-$150) and Ultra-Economy (sub-$75) smartphones.

Juniper believes that the emerging markets are now vital to success in the smartphone sector, with the gap between the growing emerging markets and the stagnating mature markets closing.

Emergence of the Low-Cost Smartphones

While Apple and Samsung continue to dominate the Ultra-Premium end of the market, these vendors are facing significant competitive pressure from local players in the emerging markets. For example, Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone vendor, is witnessing tremendous success in China and India as a result of its aggressive price-point offerings.

These new players are beginning to build market share and achieve larger economies of scale, which eventually will enable them to expand their offering and challenge other smartphone sectors in the future.


Additionally, Google is partnering with local vendors for its Google-One initiative to provide a unified feature set tailor-made for the low-cost smartphone market.

In addition to the recently launched 4.7-inch iPhone 6, Apple launched a larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. Although the 5.5-inch smartphone does not strictly classify it as a Phablet, Juniper says that they believe it has the potential to change the dynamics of the phablet market.

These new product introductions could also have a significant impact on other vendors such as Samsung who previously had the additional advantage of having large screen devices. Regardless, Apple will continue to miss opportunities for growth in emerging markets.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Apple and Samsung will account for nearly 45 percent of the global smartphones shipped this year.
  • The Average Selling Price of a smartphone will decline globally to reach $274 by 2019.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Over-the-Top Video Revenue to Reach $9.45B in Europe

The total over-the-top (OTT) video revenue in Europe was up 51 percent in 2013 reaching $3.2 billion and is expected to grow a further 43 percent this year, according to the latest market study by Strategy Analytics.

They predict that the majority of this new growth will occur within the online subscription VOD (SVOD) and ad-supported video business models, lifting the market above $9.45 billion by year-end 2018.

The growth of OTT video suggests that the audience is shifting towards accessibility and availability over actual ownership of home videos on DVD or Blu-ray discs.

"Over time, consumers will shift from content ownership to lower cost means of consuming media. As long as OTT services providers continue to offer attractive video catalogs at a reasonable price, accessibility and availability will trump ownership," said Leika Kawasaki, digital media analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The success or failure of OTT video services is heavily dependent upon the quality of their content library. According to the Strategy Analytics assessment, the expansion of global players like Netflix across Europe has been slowed due to complex content negotiation impacting the quantity and quality of available content in the region. Regardless, Netflix will continue its expansion in Europe.


Drivers of OTT Video Growth in Europe

Consumers across the region are consuming more OTT videos than ever before. Broadband internet access expansion, the proliferation of connected devices, and easy extensive online video catalogs have proven to be a potent combination in driving adoption of OTT video consumption.

Key findings from the market study include:

  • Led by Netflix, SVOD revenues experienced strong growth during 2013, up 133 percent and is expected to nearly double by year-end 2014.
  • Ad-supported video makes up over 60 percent of total OTT video revenue in Central & Eastern Europe, but will represent less than 50 percent of Western Europe OTT video revenue by year-end 2014.
  • Average OTT video spend per broadband user in Western Europe is about four times that of those in Central & Eastern European.
  • From a user perspective, the European online video market is reaching maturity but from a consumption, and even more importantly, monetization perspective OTT video is just beginning to hit its stride.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Car Telematics Subscribers to Reach 158.9M by 2020

According to the latest market study by Berg Insight, shipments of OEM embedded telematics systems worldwide are forecast to grow from 8.4 million units in 2013 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.6 percent to reach 54.5 million units in 2020.

Moreover, the number of cars sold worldwide equipped with head-units featuring handset-based telematics capabilities will grow from 7.0 million in 2013 to 68.5 million in 2020.

Telematics is a broad term that may be applied to a wide range of connected services in the automotive industry. The basic definition of automobile telematics is an automatic system designed for passenger cars that incorporates some form of cellular communication.

Automotive manufacturers can choose between several connectivity options when creating connected car services, which are not mutually exclusive. The main options today are embedded telematics devices, tethered handsets and integrated smartphones.

Car manufacturers often use a combination of these options to support different customer needs and keep pace with the rapid development of mobile technology. Connected car services are gaining momentum globally after many years of development and gradual rollout.

According the Berg, the drivers behind adoption of telematics systems among car manufacturers are both commercial and regulatory. Safety regulations that aim to make automatic emergency calls with vehicle location mandatory in all new cars are for instance being adopted in the EU and Russia with the eCall and ERA-GLONASS initiatives respectively.

In other markets such as North America and Japan, commercial services have driven adoption of OEM telematics services that have evolved from being a differentiator to a mainstream feature offered by most car brands.

Several categories of connected car services are now offered by leading car manufacturers. Examples include emergency call and roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking (SVT), vehicle diagnostics, connected navigation and infotainment, as well as convenience applications.

Convenience applications for instance include remote control of vehicle functions such as door lock/unlock and air conditioning, vehicle status and finding the last parking position. Several other applications also exist, for instance usage-based insurance, leasing and rental fleet management, as well as electronic toll collection and road charging.

Most telematics services can be supported by any connectivity type, although embedded connectivity is the most suitable option for applications including emergency call, SVT and convenience applications.

There are many business rationales for car telematics, ranging from monetary savings for the car owner in the case of SVT and usage-based insurance, to product differentiation, improved customer relationship management, potentially lower costs of product recalls and soft value creation for the car OEM.

Berg Insight forecasts that the number of telematics service subscribers using embedded systems will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 38.1 percent from 16.6 million subscribers in 2013 to 158.9 million subscribers in 2020.

"A key factor that influences the growth in active subscribers is the length of the free trial period included in the price of new cars," said André Malm, senior analyst at Berg Insight.

Renewal rates for telematics subscriptions after the free period expires are presently relatively low. However, car brands are now launching cloud-based telematics services that facilitate customization of service packages to better meet the needs of individual customers. Several car manufacturers have app stores that enable car owners to download apps directly to the infotainment system of the car.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Global OpenStack Market to Reach $3.3 Billion by 2018

Since its emergence four years ago, OpenStack has garnered a great deal of industry attention. This open source cloud computing project has seen increased momentum as more developers, vendors and end users have collaboratively built out the OpenStack architecture.

Today, the OpenStack series of projects has evolved into a top priority for many IT professionals and suppliers. This rapidly evolving software technology is the essential foundation for the Open Hybrid Cloud phenomenon. The OpenStack standard will provide similar benefits for large-scale cloud computing in the data center that the Linux standard has previously provided within the computer server.

The OpenStack technology market, which is still in the early-adopter stage of market development, will grow from an estimated $883 million in revenue during 2014 to reach $3.3 billion by 2018, as vendors increasingly adopt the open-source platform for developing their applications and enterprises deploy the infrastructure for hybrid cloud services.

That accelerating adoption represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40 percent for the six years ending in 2018, according to the latest global market study by 451 Research.

This outlook is based on the 451 Research recently announced "OpenStack Market Monitor & Forecast" service, which presents data generated via a bottom-up analysis of more than 60 vendors that support OpenStack or base their products or services on the OpenStack framework.


Their ongoing worldwide market assessment focuses on the key public and private vendors that directly provide OpenStack offerings – including products, services and turnkey offerings around OpenStack deployment and management; various distributions of OpenStack; consulting or training and other OpenStack-related services; DevOps tools; and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) on OpenStack.

However, their market-sizing analysis excludes hardware-centric revenue, as well as revenue from indirect third-party vendors, such as those in storage or software-defined networking (SDN).

"OpenStack has seen tremendous growth over the last four years in terms of investment and community expansion," said Al Sadowski, Research Director at 451 Research.

He says that the open-source platform is increasingly a consideration for private cloud deployments, and the business models within the ecosystem continue to evolve.

451 Research believes that while the current OpenStack revenue overwhelmingly comes from the thirty vendors most active in the telecom service provider marketplace, their analysts expect an increase in revenue from all market segments -- especially from companies targeting the enterprise market within the OpenStack products, software distributions and cloud management space.

They also believe that the OpenStack appeal to enterprises and service providers parallels the drivers typically associated with open source software in general -- such as flexibility, cost savings, avoiding vendor lock-in, and the ability to customize for integration with other infrastructure and applications (whether traditional datacenters, virtualization, public or private clouds).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Expect to Pay More for Your Mobile Internet Access

As the Mobile Internet becomes a greater part of most people's daily online lives, telecom regulators are monitoring service provider attempts to increase revenue by manipulating data service plan pricing.

Why would mobile network operators risk creating the environment for additional regulatory oversight? They're following the usage trends of the experienced smartphone subscriber, and they know the future mobile data traffic predictions.

The aggressive deployment of LTE networks has encouraged higher data consumption, providing an opportunity for mobile operators to focus on introducing mobile plans with a higher data quota.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, countries that have a monthly data quota in the range of 8 to 10 GB have increased from 21 percent in 1Q 2014 to 83 percent of the total in 2Q 2014.

Facing a downward trend in ARPU, mobile network operators are in search of solutions to boost their profitability. The introduction of multi-tier, multi-device shared plans allow mobile operators to target different customer segments more effectively, and in some cases, increase the price.

What's prompted this latest move. Savvy mobile subscribers have discovered they can use over-the-top messaging applications, such as the WhatsApp Messenger, and thereby reduce or remove the service provider fees they've previously paid for text messaging.

"This shift in monthly data quota provides an opportunity for mobile operators to actually revise their pricing strategy," said Lian Jye Su, research associate at ABI Research.

This change is being reflected in an average increase of 11.31 percent in the monthly tariff in the top 20 markets. In Canada, all three major mobile operators increased their price by $4.50 -- despite offering an identical data quota (limit) before the price hike.

On the other hand, 'unlimited' data plans are slowly disappearing, dropping from 50 percent in 1Q 2014 to 27.6 percent in 2Q 2014. Instead of affordable single-device data plans, major mobile operators in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia are offering multi-device data sharing plans.

For example, U.S. Cellular focuses its pricing strategy solely around data sharing plans and has increased its prices significantly.

ABI believes that a shift toward shared data plans signals the mobile operator's marketing strategy to tap into increased data consumption. Personal mobile plans have reached market saturation and service providers are keen to search for other growth segments in the market.

Mobile network operators are also introducing new 'customizable' personal plans. In Singapore, SingTel launched Asia's first post-paid mobile service that allows complete customization of voice, messaging, and data services. On the other hand, Virgin Mobile introduced a customizable prepaid plan with Walmart in the United States.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Smart Wearables Market will Reach $53.2 Billion in 2019

The idea of wearable technology as a mass market category is relatively new and still quite volatile -- where the expectations of change are very high. Moreover, some analysts say that user demand in the wearables market has already arrived, despite the relatively low adoption rates.

Research has also shown that retention rates for certain wearable devices are much lower than originally anticipated. However, this has not dampened the consumer electronics industry enthusiasm for wearable devices -- a case in point being the introduction of the Apple Watch this week.

The latest market study findings from Juniper Research has revealed that the global retail revenue from smart wearable devices are now forecast to treble by 2016, before reaching $53.2 billion in 2019.

The smart wearables market will be driven by an increase in sales of premium (very expensive) smart watches and smart glasses over the next five years.

This new market study assessment asserts that the recent entry of key industry players within the wearables sector has helped fuel an explosion of new devices in this increasingly crowded market.

However, Juniper argues that vendors still need to get over the "technology first" attitude and think in terms of consumer benefits for an increased product adoption. Besides, all these devices will need practical software apps to make them useful to their owners.


Wearable Technology also Needs Better Marketing

The market research observed that the majority of consumers are still unsure about the use-case for many wearable device types -- including smart watches and smart glasses.

In particular, potential users of these devices are hesitant to adopt wearable companion products with functionality that is very similar to that of their current smartphone.

Many of the recent developments, and much of the hardware, in the sector have come from start-ups and smaller companies. Key players have begun focusing on platform promotions -- such as Google Android Wear, Samsung SAMI data architecture or Intel Edison design platform.

This platform-centric market development approach enables them to respond easily to new device developments, rather than developing the actual devices themselves.

Meanwhile, Juniper anticipates that many of the more advanced technologies for wearables will be developed first for the enterprise and healthcare market segments, which have clearer use-cases. These segments will drive wearable technology forward, before being adapted for the mainstream consumer sector.

Other key findings from the market study include:
  • Smart watches will replace fitness wearables -- such as smart bands -- as the most purchased wearables category by 2017.
  • With smartphones increasingly becoming commoditized, wearables will remain companion devices, with many tied to specific mobile device operating systems to differentiate offerings.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Streaming Media Players Still Popular for Online Video

The low-cost set-top boxes used with over-the-top video entertainment services, such as Netflix and Hulu, were instrumental in early market development -- prior to the availability of internet-enabled Smart TV sets. Market demand is still strong.

Streaming media players were added to 6 million American homes over the past year, increasing ownership penetration to 17 percent of U.S. Internet households in the second quarter (Q2) of 2014, according to the latest market study by The NPD Group.

Moreover, streaming media player ownership is expected to increase to 39 percent of U.S. Internet households by the beginning of 2017.

The current, and future, penetration increases are being driven by three main factors; more brands in the market, more software apps, and lower device prices.

"In its infancy, the streaming media player market had two major players driving growth; Apple and Roku – now we have four relevant hardware manufacturers with the addition of Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast," said John Buffone, executive director at NPD.


NPD believes that content is what's going to bring these devices to the next level. It's not just necessary to be able to stream popular video services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Device manufacturers must also have the ability to attract a wide array of content owners and developers to build apps for their platforms – which is the direction Apple, Roku, Google, and Amazon are taking with their devices.

Even with all of the upgrades to these devices, prices are coming down, making them more attractive. The average price of a streaming media player dropped from $88 in 2012 to $61 in the first half of 2014, according to the NPD market assessment.

"The decline in price was initiated by Google with its $35 Chromecast, and it wasn't long before others, like Roku, responded competitively with solutions such as its HDMI streaming stick for $49," said Buffone.

Affordability can drive impulse buying, rapid increases in ownership, and in turn it is increasing the number of homes with access to media apps on TV. It's quickly becoming a great new channel content owners can use to grow the audience for popular TV shows, movies and more.