The relatively Unknown Companies behind Mobile Computing
August 28, 2010 3 Comments
Although, Apple, Google, RIM, and HTC have been the major players in taking us toward the mobile computing away from Desktop computing (not quite yet), but there are a few other companies behind the mobile computing technology you may want to know. In fact, I would say they are the ones reinventing the way we think about mobile.
1. Ericsson – The network infrastructure
Ericsson is one of the biggest wireless companies in the world. While Ericsson has its fingers in lots of parts and has been a big part of the wireless industry from the start, the reason they are on this list is because of LTE.
LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is one of the competing standards for the next evolution in wireless data and cellular networks. While not technically 4G (LTE Advanced is 4G), LTE-based networks will likely still be branded as such (just as most 2.5G networks were branded as 3G in the early 2000s).
LTE has the potential to do a number of things: First it can potentially have downlink speeds up to 100 Mbps. Second, Like WiMAX, it can be implemented in a wide variety of locales, the “last mile” so-to-speak, which could more easily bring broadband access to more parts of the world, especially rural parts.
The technology can also co-exist with legacy cell towers, which is one reason why AT&T, Verizon, and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute are all either already working towards migrating to LTE or evaluating it as the next standard for their networks.
Where does Ericsson fit it? It just so happens that in the uber-competitive field of LTE vendors (that is, companies that set-up the backbone for LTE networks), Ericsson is the leader in commercial deployment.
It’s already been contracted with AT&T, Verizon, MetroPCS, NTT DoCoMo in Japan and TeliaSonera in Sweden. Ericsson is one of the big players in rolling out and implementing what looks to be the next standard in cellular networks.
2. OmniVision– the camera phone technology
Camera phones no longer suck. Sure, they aren’t point-and-shoot equivalents — yet — but just take a look at the iPhone 4 or the Sprint HTC EVO 4G for an idea of where camera phones are going. Not only are images getting better but camera phones can now capture HD video that tops what you can get from a standalone camera, like the Flip.
One thing about the HTC EVO 4G and the iPhone 4 — they both have their CMOS (complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor) image sensors, courtesy of OmniVision. Chipworks has done tear-down analysis of both the iPhone 4 and the EVO 4G and reverse-engineered a number of OmniVision CMOS designs, highlighting what makes its products stand-out in a very competitive landscape.
One thing that OmniVision is doing is called backside illumination (BSI). BSI lets the CMOS or CCD (charge-coupled device) sensor take in more light per pixel and use that light more effectively. More light means better photos and improved results, even with super-small sensors.
While some companies, like InVisage, are also attempting to solve this problem by replacing some of the silicon on top of the CMOS with quantum dots, BSI is on the market now and the results are already speaking for themselves.
3. Gorilla Glass – the glass cover on the phone
Frankly, Gorilla Glass should thanks iPhone who started the touchscreen revolution. The company is a product by Corning, which has been engineered to be more scratch resistant and more durable than traditional glasses used in electronic devices. To achieve these qualities, the glass is chemically treated and strengthened.
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly important and being resilient to nature, water and clumsiness is an important part of shaping devices for the future.