Altair’s Goal: Slash LTE Chip Prices

Carl Weinschenk

It’s Friday, which always is good news. Here is a dig into the meaning of noteworthy news and commentary from the week ending today.

Trouble for iPhones?

Analyst Peter Misek on June 23 released a report cutting estimates of iPhone orders for the second half of the year. CNET reported that Misek reduced third-quarter orders from between 40 million and 45 million devices to between 25 million and 30 million devices. Fourth-quarter estimates, the story reports, have receded from between 60 million and 65 million devices to between 50 million and 55 million devices.

Clearly, analysts have sophisticated tools for extrapolating these predictions from small amounts of data. Still, the evidence seems a bit skimpy. The story says that Misek’s reassessments were based on inflated inventory levels at “several hundred” Orange, Vodafone and EE stores” in the United Kingdom. Samsung Galaxy 3 levels also were high, the story said.

The story pointed to other bits and pieces of anecdotal evidence that suggest that demand for iPhones is down. The bottom line seems to be that iPhone demand is soft, though the specificity of Misek’s predictions is questionable.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Have ‘Em Join You

BlackBerry said this week that it is extending its Secure Work Space to include iOS and Android, according to CIO and other sites. Reporter Al Sacco said the new offering is similar to the BlackBerry Balance service the company offers users of its own end devices.

In essence, the idea is to secure Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) by using the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to secure the work element of a user’s device. Writes Sacco:

Secure Work Space for iOS and Android creates an AES 256-bit encrypted work space on iOS and Android devices, and allows secure access to corporate directories and lookup features; corporate calendar and appointments; tasks; corporate Intranets and other behind-the-firewall data; a secure browser; document-viewing and editing tools; and more.

Smartphone and tablet operating systems offer equivalent features. Despite BlackBerry’s well-publicized troubles, it still excels in enterprise security and is deeply penetrated in the workplace. This makes Secure Work Space for iOS and Android a potentially valuable tool.

A New Player in LTE Semiconductors

A lower-profile company is trying to squeeze its way into the LTE market. EE Times reported that Altair Semiconductor is going after Qualcomm and others. Eran Eshed, the company’s co-founder and vice president, said that chips for Wi-Fi cost about $10, while LTE chips are in the $150 to $200 range. He said that “an inflection point” will be reached if the 4G chips hit the $20 to $40 mark.

The company originally worked on Intel’s WiMax initiative, which fell flat. However, according to the story, Altair has no 3G legacy. Therefore, he believes the company can hit the more aggressive size and price marks. The story says that a Taiwanese company, Quanta, is using Altair chips in modules that have been certified by Verizon.

Gartner: Corporate Mobile Video Will Win and Struggles

Gartner predicted this week that by 2015 – a scant two years from now – 60 percent of information workers will use mobile devices to access video content applications.

That’s impressive, but the news is not all good for mobile proponents. Gartner says that the increase will include a lot of failure. The press release offered an explanatory comment from Whit Andrews, a Vice President and Distinguished Analyst for Gartner:

”[B]y the end of 2016, we expect 50 percent of content and collaboration initiatives will fail because of low levels of engagement with the information workers directly affected by them. There will be many aspects to this, including a failure to respect the importance of preferred devices for business consumers. Even though mobile devices represent an inconvenient way to deliver video in many respects, they must be part of any enterprise video strategy."

The planning for this reality will be significant. IT departments must be able to support a high variety of devices and different networks and plan for other variables.

Real Road Warriors

And, finally, a story about the ultimate mobile devices. The Voyager twins, 1 and 2, were launched by NASA in 1977 to study Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. They did, and then just kept going. They now are about 11.4 billion and 9.4 billion miles from earth, respectively. reported this week that Voyager 1, which was launched a few weeks earlier than its cousin, is getting close to the boundary between the heliosphere, or the edge of the solar system, and interstellar space. Scientists expect three things to happen as the craft crosses over: a great reduction in the number of particles charged by the sun, an increase in cosmic rays, and a shift in the magnetic field orientation from east-west to roughly north-south. The story says that the first two phenomena have occurred.

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