The drive behind the chipset race isn't just to provide low-cost LTE smartphones for budget conscious consumers in the U.S. and Europe, but also to help the technology take off in emerging countries.
China Mobile, which launched commercial services in December, has been putting a lot of pressure on chipset makers and phone manufacturers to develop the cheaper devices it needs to be successful, said Alan Hadden, president at GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association). The target is to bring down the cost of a smartphone with LTE to $100, he said.
China Mobile already offers smartphones from Lenovo and Coolpad for about $160 without a contract. The Lenovo A788T and Coolpad 8720L are both powered by a SoC (system-on-a-chip) from Marvell. The scale that China Mobile adds will help bring down the cost of LTE, Hadden and Nicolas agreed.
The total number LTE subscribers had increased to 200.1 million by the end of last year, including 101 million in North America, 77.8 million in the Asia-Pacific region, and about 16.4 million in Europe, according to market research company Informa Telecoms and Media.
Earlier this month, GSA reported that 154 manufacturers had announced 1,563 user devices with LTE, including operator and frequency variants. Of all those products 742 were launched in the past year, representing a 90 percent annual growth. The number of manufacturers increased by 58 percent.
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