Tag Archives: smartphones

Report: 1.2 billion smartphones were sold in 2014

Worldwide sales of smartphones with larger screens grew 180% in 2014.

According to the latest report from Germany-based GfK, there were 1.2 billion smartphones sold in 2014, up 23% on the year before and surpassing the billion-unit point for the first time. Yet, the analysts project sales to slow down to 14% growth in 2015, which will lead to approximately 1.37 billion devices.

Furthermore, last year saw a tremendous $381.1 billion worth of smartphones sold, up from $330 billion in 2013. Global smartphone sales set a new milestone at the tail-end of 2014 by reaching $115 billion for the Q4, an increase of 20% year-on-year. The number of units sold worldwide had also risen to nearly 346 million, up 19% on Q4 2013. Just about every region experienced YoY growth in smartphones — both in terms of units and value — except for “developed” APAC. Meanwhile, the Latin America smartphone market enjoyed the highest growth with 36 million units sold in Q4 2014, a 43% YoY jump. This region also saw the value of units sold increase by 37% year-on-year to around $10 billion.


Moving ahead, China will remain the largest market in terms of both unit and value sales for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, growth slowed dramatically in the second half of 2014. Analysts revealed that during the fourth quarter smartphone unit sales were flat year-on-year, although the value of units sold increased by 21% YoY to $28 billion, the highest ever quarterly figure. Still, however, there were nearly 400 million smartphones sold in China — almost one-third of the global total.

“The increase in the value of units sold in China, despite the recent plateauing of unit sales, is due to consumers’ rapid adoption of higher priced smartphones with larger screen sizes. This is a trend seen in most markets and GfK global data shows that the 5 to 5.6 inch segment grew by more than 130% year-on-year in the last quarter of 2014 and by nearly 150% in the full year. In 2015, we forecast this segment to become the dominant screen size band, surpassing 4 to 4.5 inch for the first time,” explained Kevin Walsh, Director of Trends and Forecasting at GfK.

While prices may be shrinking, the screens are doing anything but. In fact, global unit sales of smartphones with larger screens (5”+) grew 180% in 2014, with GfK forecasting this to be the largest segment in 2015. The most resilient two regions in 2015 — both forecast to grow by 33% in unit terms — are “emerging” APAC and Middle East/Africa. Both areas still have significant room for growth as consumers migrate from feature phones and existing smartphones to trade up to a bigger screen.

As TechCrunch points out, “It’s a revealing picture of just how strong Android is in certain markets at the moment. As you can see, globally when you exclude North America, at the start of 2014, the majority of mobile sales were still feature phones, accounting for 68% of all sales. By Q4, Android held a 57% of all sales, while feature phones were just at 29%. ‘Other smartphones,’ which are primarily iPhone devices, ended 2014 just as it started: with 14% of sales.”

Unlike other research firms, GfK’s numbers are worth noting given that the company tracks actual sales, not just shipments, of devices from more than 90 markets. Interested in reading more? You can find the entire report here.

Report: IoT device shipments to reach 1 billion this year

Deloitte predicts 60% of connected devices will be bought for enterprise and industrial use, not consumer… yet. 

Global shipments of Internet of Things (IoT) devices will reach 1 billion this year, 60% of which will be bought for enterprise and industry use, rather than consumers, a new Deloitte study reveals. In its 14th annual “Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions” report, the research firm explored what it believes to be the realms that will have the greatest impact in 2015. Among those included the IoT, drones, 3D printing and nanosats, each areas that are heavily enabled by Atmel embedded technology.


“We are entering an extraordinary period where consumer technologies are finding increased adoption in the enterprise space. Our data indicates an exponential increase in interest in the IoT by the enterprise, which could have a profound impact on the way business is conducted,” said Eric Openshaw, Deloitte Vice Chairman. “Strong enterprise adoption of the IoT could prove to be a huge opportunity for both vendors and retail consumers alike. The amount of data we will see generated from connected devices will pave the way to measure interactions in a way not witnessed before. And, as a result, will allow organizations to understand customer behaviors and purchase patterns in a whole new light.”

IoT-specific hardware will be worth $10 billion, with consumers’ appetites for controlling their heating, lights and appliances will jump. However, the big story will be around enterprise service and industrial area, which will be valued at approximately $70 billion. The company also anticipates that global smartphone sales will surpass 1 billion for the first time this year, with screen size, speed, storage, software and design being key drivers of growth.

“We expect the pendulum of technology adoption to swing back to the enterprise with company led adoption of wearables, 3D printing, drones and the Internet of Things meeting more needs and generating higher sales for business than consumers,” TMT Risk Services Partner Dennis Moth added. “Although the focus may well be on consumer take-up — think Bluetooth-enabled roller-doors, white goods, etc. — the real value [at this moment] will be in the savings made by industry and business, with smart factories, smart homes, eHealth and telematics.”


The report finds that in 2015, enterprises will lead purchases of 3D printing and drones, signaling a shift away from the consumerization of IT predominant in the last decade that spiked with consumers’ moderate investment in wearable technology such as smart glasses. This year, drones will have multiple industrial and civil government applications, as sales of non-military UAVs will near 300,000 units and drive the installed base to over a million.

Meanwhile, over 500 nanosatellites are expected to be in orbit by year-end. According to Deloitte, nanosats are attractive for many reasons: they are cheaper than conventional satellites, lighter, easier to build and test, and easier to launch. Although increasingly capable of more complex tasks, they are likely to be additive to the existing large satellite market, and not replace it.

Turning its attention to mobile payments, Deloitte predicted that 2015 will be a watershed for the use of contactless technologies like NFC. In fact, by the end of the year, 30 million NFC-capable phones will make at least one in-store payment per month. Deloitte Lead Telecoms Partner Ed Marsden notes, “This technology is likely to exist alongside other means of payments for some time yet.”

In addition, the research firm highlights that the number of homes with broadband Internet will rise by about 2% to 725 million over the next 12 months, with average broadband speeds in most countries increasing by 20%. The gap between those with access to the fastest broadband speeds and those on basic speeds will continue to widen in 2015, providing a varied experience from home to home, especially for high bandwidth applications like streaming video.

Interested in learning more? You can explore each of Deloitte’s TMT predictions in depth here.

Report: Chinese companies sell 40% of all smartphones

Global smartphone shipments totaled 1.167 billion units in 2014.

Chinese companies accounted for nearly 40% of global smartphone sales and represent six of the top 10 smartphone brands worldwide in 2014, according to a new report from TrendForce.


“2014 was definitely an impressive year for Chinese brands as they gained more share of the global market,” explained Avril Wu, TrendForce Global Smartphone Analyst. Total worldwide shipments totaled 1.167 billion units last year, with combined shipments of Chinese brands surpassing 453 million units. 

Atop the list of vendors was Samsung who lead the pack with 28% market share, with Apple not far behind at 16.4%. Lenovo, with Motorola under its wing, ranked third after shipping over 90 million smartphone last year. LG, Huawei and Xiaomi followed with 6.0%, 5.9% and 5.2% market share, respectively.


TrendForce notes that Xiaomi has had a particularly strong showing in recent years, having doubled in growth YoY since 2011. “As for the smartphone makers with the best cost-performance products, the title goes to Xiaomi. Its flagship models cost around $300 to $350, but they match their high-end counterparts from international vendors in hardware specs.”

Other notable names rounding out the list included Coolpad, Sony, ZTE and TCL. By 2015, TrendForce projects that three of the top five companies will be Chinese.

Samsung stays ahead of the curve with the Galaxy Note Edge

Samsung’s concept for a smartphone with a slanted screen edge that could easily be viewed from the side is now a reality, in the form of the company’s first-of-its-kind device aptly named the Galaxy Note Edge.


Announced last week at IFA 2014, the smartphone’s wraparound display boasts a 5.6-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED at a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, with an additional 160 pixels on the edge which cascades off to the right. The sole curved edge serves as a fully-functional touchscreen independent from the main screen itself, and features the app shortcuts one would typically find along the bottom of a phone’s home screen — such as the dialer, your contacts, web browser and camera.

“The Galaxy Note Edge’s unique curved screen provides quick access to frequently used apps, alerts and device functionality – even when the cover is closed – all with the swipe of a thumb,” the company’s press release stated. The Edge’s side screen offers a dynamic user experience, providing owners with a variety of immersive apps, including camera, video, S Note, ticker board, night clock among several others. Users can also receive notifications directly on the Edge Screen while watching videos without disturbing their viewing session. What this means is that a user would simply have to swipe in order to access their latest Twitter updates, sports scores and an assortment of other alerts.

Similar to the other Galaxy Note family members, the Edge comes with Samsung’s S Pen stylus. Using the pen, a user can do things such as capture images off the screen and edit them on the fly, take handwritten notes, and more.

The company’s latest design will run Android 4.4 KitKat, and will be powered by a 2.7-gigahertz quad-core processor. The system also is equipped with 3 gigabytes of RAM, with storage options of 32 or 64 gigabytes, and a microSD slot that offers expansion up to 64 gigabytes. The Note Edge’s rear-facing camera is a 16-megapixel shooter with smart optical image stabilization, while the front-facing lens is 3.7 megapixels.

In terms of connectivity, the Note Edge will support up to LTE Cat 6 for 300Mbps download speeds, and also includes next-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, infrared LED remote control, and NFC technology.

While the Galaxy Note Edge puts Samsung ahead of the ‘curve,’ it looks like we’re in for a flexible future. As previously reported here on Bits & Pieces, the share of flexible smartphones in the overall smartphone market is expected to reach 40% in 2018, up from merely 0.2% last year. This should come with little surprise following recent analyst forecasts projecting the flexible display market to cross the $3.89 billion threshold by 2020 – growing at an impressively high CAGR from 2014 to 2020.

As more tech giants look to curved displays, we will be right there to offer our magic touch. Atmel’s Sensor Hub and MaxTouch T are high-performance solutions to bridge the scaling of these touch display markets while application use-cases will surely grow of smartphones and display markets. The MaxTouch T series architecture combines the best of mutual and self-capacitance to ensure optimal touch performance with the highest noise immunity and lowest power consumption. As for Atmel’s Sensor Hub, in more frequency for new products (embedded designs and display markets) are going to demand upon higher levels of integration especially when there are other fusion of data involved. Many of these tasks require the simultaneous analysis and fusion of data from different sensors and sensor types. These can include motion sensors (accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers), environment sensors (light level, color, temperature, pressure, humidity) and many others. To ease the design and build out of such new products, Atmel has partnered with the leading sensor manufacturers. Sensor fusion specialists can be available to provide a complete, easy to implement Sensor Hub Solution to facilitate the flexible display market.

Smartphone users in emerging markets want bigger screens

With the latest rumors swirling that Apple’s iPhone 6 will feature a much larger touchscreen, it is quite evident that smartphone is increasingly becoming a hub for entertainment and video content. Here at Atmel, we have been on the forefront of the touchscreen revolution and believe the future lies within the handheld touchscreen.

A new report from reputed market research firm Jana suggests that consumers in emerging markets are now also seeking out larger screens on their smartphones. The survey, which targeted 1,300 smartphone users in countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Mexico, found people craving mobile devices with 5-inch and 5.5-inch screens. The 4-inch screen of the current iPhone and other similar devices did not garner much global favor, though some that were surveyed believed that smaller screen provided more convenience.


“While the four to five inch screen segment is not considered desirable by most of our respondents, four-inch screens are still popular,” Jana wrote on its blog.

These findings come just weeks after Business Insider’s latest study, which revealed that phablets — defined as a smartphone with a screen between 5-inches and 7-inches — will surpass 1.5 billion shipments within the next five years. By 2019, the devices will soon account for 59% of total global smartphone shipments, up from an expected 35% in 2014. As a result, it is believed phablets will outnumber tablet sales three to one over the next five years. 

What factors are motivating this interest for larger phones? In many of these emerging markets, the handheld device often times serves as an all-in-one entertainment system. From watching videos and surfing the Internet to glancing at photos and playing games, a larger screen makes all of these activities more enjoyable. Others added that slow buffering speeds and weak connections hindered their efforts, but they still sought out video content on their smartphones. 

Bits & Pieces has previously explored what makes a consumer select a specific device, but these new statistics from Juno provide a clear motivation for manufacturers to produce larger screens. Customers expect to consume video content on their handhelds and larger touchscreens can enhance that experience. As the entertainment landscape becomes increasingly digitized, there is no doubt more and more individuals will continue to thirst for interactive content on their smart devices.


Ahead of the curve, Atmel recently expanded its popular maXTouch T lineup of touchscreen controllers with the mXT640TmXT336T and mXT224T. The new devices offer a comprehensive set of features, supporting next-gen mobile devices such as smartphones, phablets and mid-size tablets with touchscreens ranging from 3.2”-8.3.” With 640 nodes, the mXT64xT series of devices are the world’s most comprehensive capacitive touchscreen controllers designed for next-generation smartphones.

Phablet shipments will hit 1.5 billion in 2019

Writing for Business Insider, Tony Danova notes that the phablets — defined as a smartphone with a screen between 5-inches and 7-inches — will surpass 1.5 billion shipments by 2019. With that, the devices will soon account for 59% of total global smartphone shipments, up from an expected 35% in 2014. As a result, it is believed phablets will outnumber tablet sales three to one over the next five years.


According to a new report from BI Intelligence, the market has been migrating towards phablets over the past few quarters, and that shift is expected to continue as phablets become the go-to smartphone form factor. “While this is a broad definition,” Danova notes, the advantage is that it captures one of the most important trends in the smartphone market in the last couple of years — the phenomenal popularity of devices such as the Samsung Galaxy line.

As the emerging trend continues to favor larger device screens, phablets are expected to remain the fastest-growig smartphone category through 2019, growing at a CAGR of 27%, nearly double the 15% compound rate for the smartphone market over the same period. Phablets have also accelerated the trend of consumer time spent on visually-oriented social media and messaging apps, with the report revealing that more than half of activity on phablets is tied to social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.


Cognizant of this trend, Atmel recently expanded its popular maXTouch T lineup of touchscreen controllers with the mXT640T, mXT336T and mXT224T. The new devices offer a comprehensive set of features, supporting next-gen mobile devices such as smartphones, phablets and mid-size tablets with touchscreens ranging from 3.2”-8.3.” With 640 nodes, the mXT64xT series of devices are the world’s most comprehensive capacitive touchscreen controllers designed for next-generation smartphones. The mXT640T supports screen sizes up to 6.2″ with a 1.0 mm passive stylus, up to 5.0 mm thick multi-finger glove sensing, and superior moisture touch performance, while also supports up to 7″ for Windows® 8 compliant devices, and up to 8″ for Android smartphones, phablets and tablets.

“The new T Series enables superior touch performance with single-layer sensors as compared to the most recently announced solutions. Simply put, the latest devices will enable Atmel to extend its industry leadership in the large-screen market to the smartphone and phablet spaces,” an Atmel engineering rep recently explained.


8 things to know this morning

Good morning, folks! If yesterday was a busy day in the office, here are a couple of tidbits of news you may have missed.

1. The Internet of Things is the hackers’ new playground. HP found 25 vulnerabilities per device including everything from TVs to thermostats to home alarms and scales.

2. The Internet of Things will thrive on energy efficiency. Among the IoT’s most important functions will be to help individuals, communities and cities become smarter energy consumers.

3. GizmoChina tears down the newly-unveiled Xiaomi Mi4. After opening up the device, the flagship smartphone is powered by Atmel’s maXTouch mXT641T controller.


4. TouchPico turns any wall into a touchscreen. The tiny handheld projector that when combined with an infrared stylus turns any surface into a giant interactive touchscreen.

5. Car owners will demand connected features in their next vehicle, study finds. Over 75% of U.S. vehicle owners with at least one connected car feature indicate these services will influence their next vehicle purchase, and over 50% rated connected services as “very important” in guiding their new vehicle purchase.


6. Smart seatbelts with embedded sensors alert drowsy drivers.Created by the Biomechanics Institute (IBV), the Heart and Respiration In-Car Embedded Non-Intrusive Sensors system works by measuring the heart rate and respiratory pace of a driver.

7. Amazon now selling customizable, 3D-printed products. Amazon announced Monday that customers will now have the ability to design their very own personalized 3D-printed products, including toys, earrings, and decorative vases.

8. Half of Americans are interested in wireless LED lighting. ON World’s recently completed survey with 1,000 U.S. consumers found that nearly half are willing to pay $10 or more for a smart wireless LED light bulb.

A look inside Xiaomi Mi4…

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi recently debuted its latest flagship smartphone, the Mi4. According to a teardown by the folks at GizmoChinathe newly-unveiled device is powered by Atmel’s maXTouch mXT641T controller.


In terms of specs, the Mi4 comfortably holds its own with other competing devices, boasting a 5-inch full-HD screen, a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 901 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, 16GB or 64GB of internal memory and runs on a 3080 mAh battery. For the first-time ever, the company has also chosen to add a touch of metal — SAE 304 stainless steel — to the phone’s frame, along with a slightly curved plastic back cover. The device will also run Xiaomi’s custom MIUI operating system.


After recently reaching 26.1 million smartphones in the first half of 2014, Xiaomi continues to build momentum throughout the industry with an expansion outside of Greater China into Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and India.

As far as pricing is concerned, the Mi4 will be available for approximately USD $322 for the entry-level 16GB model, while the 64GB version will cost around USD $403. Though the 3G versions are slated to go on sale as early as July 29th (China Unicom), those seeking the 4G version will have to wait until September. Xiaomi hasn’t said when the phone will be available outside of China, however.


According to Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, the Mi4 will be “the fastest smartphone in the world.” Additional key Mi4 smartphone features include:

o   Gloved touch and moisture immunity
o   2.63mm slim edge
o   Patented palm-rejection feature on edge

This isn’t the first time Xiaomi has embedded Atmel into its touch devices. Back in October, the smartphone maker selected the XT540S controller to power the 5-inch touchscreen of the Mi3.

To get an up close and personal look inside the Mi4, you’ll find the entire teardown here.

Interested in learning more about our maXTouch technology? You can check out Atmel’s maXTouch portfolio.

4 in 10 smartphones will have flexible displays by 2018

According to market research firm DisplaySearch, the share of flexible smartphones in the overall smartphone market is expected to reach 40% in 2018, up from merely 0.2% last year. This should come with little surprise following recent analyst forecasts projecting the flexible display market to cross the $3.89 billion threshold by 2020 – growing at an impressively high CAGR from 2014 to 2020.


It should also be noted that Jennifer Colegrove, who owns Touch Display Research in Santa Clara, California, says the potential market for XSense and similar technologies will increase from $200 million in 2013 to $4 billion by 2020, primarily for tablet computers and other larger mobile devices.

So far, tech giants Samsung and LG have jumped into the curved smartphone waters as seen during last October’s unveilings of both the Galaxy Round and LG G-Flex, respectively.

“Touchscreens that are thin, light, responsive, sleek and flexible create a multitude of possibilities for the future of design beyond familiar industrial and consumer applications, including wearables, mobile devices, automotive infotainment and other curved surfaces,” explained Jalil Shaikh, Atmel’s Vice President and GM.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel’s XSense continues to play a role in the rapidly evolving flexible display market. Essentially, XSense is a high-performance, highly flexible touch sensor which allows engineers to design devices with curved surfaces and even add functionality along product edges. This offers manufacturers the capability to build light-weight, sleek, edgeless smartphones, tablets and other touch-enabled devices.

Last month, EDN China selected XSense as a “Top 10 Most Influential Technologies for the Future.”


Interested in learning more about Atmel’s XSense? Head on over to Bits & Pieces article archive on the subject here or check out what some Makers are envisioning a future of flexible displays.

What factors do you consider when selecting a device?

What factors do you consider when making a purchasing decision for your next smartphone, tablet or PC? It’s quite likely that every individual goes through their own unique selection criteria, ranging from price of the device to functionality. However, what are the true deciding factors, and why?


Smartphones are different than tablets and PCs in that they are almost always under a contract and tied to a carrier. On top of this, it is common that OEMs only release certain versions of the smartphone in specific territories or countries. With phones you have to factor in which carrier you prefer, where you have the best phone reception, which is offering the best deals, etc. There is less weight on the hardware and software itself, and more on outside influences of location and carriers. For this reason, I’m not going to focus on smartphones.

Tablets / PCs
Since tablets and PCs are not necessarily tied to a carrier, there is weight put into the hardware and software of the product offerings rather than other criteria. Hence, why we will focus on this particular category. So, what are these most important factors?

Is this a work PC or a fun device to store music on and play with friends? Pricing / value will shake-out of this. You need high processing capability for work, there is premium associated with the best processors. If you are going to be doing a lot of gaming, then processing power is again important, but so are graphics. What your primary use case is for the device will largely influence your purchasing criteria and therefore your willingness to spend.

It seems people are either Apple fanatics or not. If you are, you tend to buy all Apple products, claiming that the simplicity, elegance and ease-of-use are the reasons for your obsession, and therefore you pay the premium for these products. Apple is an amazing company with amazing products and has (at least had) the ability to revolutionize any industry it sought to. If you are not an Apple person, brand loyalty is likely less important on the pareto of purchasing criteria. Another factor here, do you have full authority to make your own selection, or is this a work device paid for by your company? Many companies have IT departments that will only support certain machines.

No matter who we are everyone wants to feel like they are getting a good value associated with every purchase. This is as much a psychological topic as a hardware one. The story of a person sitting at in an air-conditioned home vs. a person crawling through a dessert, who do you think values a bottle of water more? Same idea, the traveler sitting on a plane for 12-hours with no movies playing vs. a person sitting in front of their TV, who do you think values a tablet more? The person whom is provided a PC for their work, vs. someone whom has to purchase one on their own? This criterion melds with the previous criterion in functionality.

Operating System (OS)
Let’s focus on PCs and tablets separately for this discussion. In terms of PCs, you primarily are on Windows or iOS — iOS if you are using Apple, and every other PC OEM is mostly running Windows. This is starting to fragment some with the introduction of Google Chrome, Linux, and many others, but the lion’s share in PCs is still between iOS and Windows.

For tablets, it’s a bit more skewed. Again, Apple iPad users are on iOS, but Android still has the largest overall OS share (smartphone / tablet / PC) with 48% (1.2B devices in 2014). With it being an open-sourced OS it invites all the OEMs to utilize it very easy. From a user’s perspective it has become very familiar and easy to use. Windows with their introduction of Win8 in October 2012 has been slowly gaining market share.

But when it is all said and done, do the users really care about which OS? Or, is the OS more connected to the functionality — in other words, when a user makes a purchase for a work PC, it just comes with Windows?

Form Factor
How heavy is the device? What screen size does it have? Is it a convertible, 2-in-1, or rotating screen device? The form factor again will be most influenced by the user’s primary use-case. If you are getting a computer for work, but you have to travel a lot, you definitely aren’t going to get a desktop. And on-top of that, you will want the lightest possible device you can get so you don’t have to lug around a heavy brick everywhere, but yet that still meets your processing needs. Depending on your supplementary use-cases, you might be inclined to get a 2-in-1 in that situation. Form factor is definitely a consideration, but tied to use case.

Being able to go to the app store and download the latest and greatest apps that everyone is talking about is a big deal. Apps are what make our devices more functional and important today than ever before. But different OSs have different quantities and qualities of apps available. Apple is leading this charge, then Android, and lastly Windows. Almost all developers were at least starting with iOS, apps first version available usually on iOS, followed by Android.

Catchy, fun, relative, and helpful advertisements are always good, but it should make less implication on decision criteria other than communicating the information associated with the previously discussed decision pareto.

Intended functionality / use case is likely the most important criteria, even including brand seems to fall out of this. This is definitely a topic that has far more breadth!