Build a Mobile Internet Device for the ULC handset market - Embedded.com

Build a Mobile Internet Device for the ULC handset market

This “Product How-To” article focuses how to use a certain product in an embedded system and is written by a company representative.

The ultralow-cost (ULC) handset market is seeing high levels of interest from all industry players. The market anticipates over 80 million new wireless subscribers year-on-year in China until 2012, while India – having a user-base of 275 million – has one of the lowest teledensities in the world, with less than 25 percent.

These markets offer huge potential for handset manufacturers as the developed markets slowly reach saturation point. The GSM Association has predicted that several hundred million ULC models will ship by 2010, with over two-thirds of new cellular users expected in the next three years to be from the developing world.

With this backdrop, the interest in the ULC market is understandable. The key to success will lie in the correct targeting of application and user trends.

Figure 1. Combining GSM and VoIP technology in a low-cost mobile platform will increase coverage and decrease cost per call.

The low-cost and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) markets have been driven by a focused and dedicated strategy of onchip integration as a means of achieving a price-performance position needed in a market with sub-$40 average selling price.

The evolution of the sector is being driven by the aggressive integration strategy of chip suppliers. Baseband, power management unit, RF transceiver and FM radio are now combined on a single-chip. This evolution has provided the ULC segment with affordable phones with a targeted multimedia feature-set.

In the BRIC target markets, users belong to one of three groups: low-income users in urban/rural areas; people who don't need the extended functions of mobile phones; and financially dependent people.

Applications
From citizen journalism, listening to podcasts and music, Internet browsing to voice and text messaging functions, ULC phones open up huge potential for application diversity and usage in the developing and emerging markets.

Edge devices have enhanced the mobile Internet experience. They have been catalysts for the usability and acceptance of Web 2.0 and Web-based applications.

These include location and navigation, and YouTube. Cameras and file sharing present ever increasing content and user dynamics for social networking sites and blogging. The true success of mobile Internet no longer depends on “enabler” technology, but on how the operators position and define their data-planning and subscriber cost structures.

Meanwhile, free connectivity such as Bluetooth will continue to dominate for file sharing. However, the increasing attractiveness of the ULC market may see changes happen over time.

Java phones make high-end content affordable at ULC prices to an increasingly hungry market. At the same time, more free content is being made available to users as a means of stimulating subscriber behavior.

An example is China Mobile's 12530 music site. FM radio, podcasts and MP3s have succeeded in offering large amounts of free content such as news, music, entertainment and educational information.

In the meantime, there is strong demand for even the simplest handsets and an increasing demand for network infrastructure coverage. Chip suppliers have been able to drive down component costs, and handset makers are stripping down software and specifications, retaining only essential functions to keep prices low.

With these trends in mind, Infineon developed products for bringing feature phones into the ULC market.

Edge connectivity
The X-GOLD113 device (Figure 2, below) combines a GSM/GPRS modem and supports an audio player and FM radio for news, music and entertainment. The XMM1130 platform based on the X-GOLD113 supports a stereo headset, digital microphone for noise suppression, Class-D amplifier for power- efficient audio performance, audio codecs, USB interface for fast external device access, and interfaces for memory-card and Bluetooth connectivity.

It comes in an 8mm x 8mm wafer package with less than 50 components, realizable on a 4-layer PCB maximizing design flexibility for handset manufacturers.

Figure 2. The XMMTM2130 enables HTML browsing in price-sensitive markets.

The X-GOLD213 device adds an Edge Modem, a 3Mpixel camera and connectivity options (AGPS, WLAN and Bluetooth). Based on this device, the XMM2130 platform offers Edge functionality, and the corresponding factor increase of three in the data rates of the downlink channel makes it an ideal browsing and messaging platform.

Even with Bluetooth, the platform is less than 6cm2. The platform comes with Edge release 5 support and Infineon's software solutions including Infineon Multimedia Framework for Java, WAP2.0 and MMS.

Java machine
The use of Java as a delivery vehicle for low-cost segment is crucial due to a number of reasons. Predicting which key applications will emerge is tough and is made even harder because the life cycles of applications are often shorter than that of the phone.

Thus, the ability to deploy new applications on phone platforms and to address time-to-market concerns is vital. The adoption of Java Multiple Virtual Machines rather than Single Virtual Machines in the low-cost segment will strengthen the Java offering in its ability to cover the user-cases emerging for mobile users.

The Edge capability of the XMM2130 platform is ideally suited to emerging markets, where Edge will be the best connectivity backbone for many users to go on-line, and where 3G is often not suitable due to the cost of network rollout. Edge platforms are becoming more cost-attractive.

This is underpinned by more than 2.5 billion untapped/unconnected users, and more so by the 3 billion existing subscribers. These users will increasingly move toward mobile Internet as a means of interaction, and in creating a bridge across users in both developed and developing markets.

Connectivity and interface options provided by the platform enable the Internet on mobile devices by adding more dimensions to the basic Web search model.

Searching can be done on the mobile phone anytime and anywhere, and subscribers use it when and where they need it most. The ability to mix search with location is further leveraged by the camera for imaging, photos and messaging; GPS for location and localization; and Bluetooth for file sharing.

Although the long-term future of mobile search will be most likely found with search based services that leverage the browser or a downloadable application, location searching will be a major part of the mobile search. This is because location searching can be leveraged by the mobile phones' features and advantages.

Dnal ” Donnabhin is Marketing Manager, Entry Phones, at Infineon Technologies AG.

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