LIVE FROM THE FUTURE OF WIRELESS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, CAMBRIDGE: Enabling local innovation in the mobile space has the potential to change people’s lives, Pete Hutton (pictured), EVP and president of product groups at ARM, told delegates in Cambridge.
“For us, mobile is still at the centre of things,” Hutton said, explaining that the chip firm is looking at how it can contribute to connecting four billion additional people to mobile devices.
As part of these efforts, ARM and its partners, which include Mozilla and Spreadtrum, are working to drive down the cost of smartphones. Entry level devices were priced at around $400 in 2010, getting as low as $50 in 2013 in the BRIC markets. By 2018, ARM predicts the same devices will start at $25.
Hutton cited China — where ARM has 10 semiconductor partners — as a market where the lowering of costs has had a real impact on innovation as domestic OEMs and ODMs, such as rapidly-expanding Xiaomi, hold a significant proportion of the mobile market.
“It’s very important to enable local innovation and economies around the basic technology we provide,” Hutton said.
Indeed the China-centric ecosystem has seen more than 200 different app stores emerge, each of which has one million titles produced and optimised for China. “That’s the kind of business models that we can enable,” noted Hutton.
The tablet market in China also demonstrates this potential of quick innovation and change in a marketplace, according to the ARM executive. Around 120 million whitebox tablets were shipped in China in 2013, when a similar market is only just emerging for low-cost tablets elsewhere.
This emergence of local and low-cost tablets can widen access to education, deliver “transformational medical tools” and bridge literacy issues, for example, by providing voice instruction on farming techniques in rural areas.
“Getting technology into people’s heads, enabling local communities really helps. This is how we think the planet and people can operate alongside profit,” Hutton concluded.