In the previous introductory article of this series, IHS outlined an overview of how device OEMs might utilize cellular reference platform designs and how to assess them to select the best platform for a given set of design objectives. In that article, the OEMs objective was in how to use the reference platform to rapidly create a certifiable handset model or family of models. However, once the models are able to be certified, the OEM must also consider in their reference platform selection what commercialization capabilities the platform supplier might bring to the table in order to help bring those models to market. As each market is different, this raises the question of how to localize the handset models for the needs of a particular market without introducing so much variability and customization as to compromise the integrity of the reference platform and negating the time to market benefits that such a platform enables. In this issue, IHS will further explore what added capabilities a reference platform supplier might bring to bear to help address this challenge.
One Size Does Not Fit All
As mentioned earlier, once design is complete, the next challenge for a device manufacturer is commercializing the design in the target markets. While it is true that some of the considerations for doing this have to do with ensuring that the reference platform included the air interface technologies and frequency bands required in those markets, what might not be as obvious is that there are other localization parameters that will also help drive the success of the device. The more of these parameters that are addressed, the greater the chance for the device to be successful in a given target market. Some examples of these localized capabilities include but are not limited to the following:
- Language support
- Regional formatting
- Local network support
- Network settings
- Written word requirements
- Right to left or up/down reading
- Character support
- Internet filtering
- Local results first
- Mobile Network Operator(MNO)-specific support
- Applications/service stores
- MNO app
In the past, providing this type of localized customization introduced variability in the design causing an inability to use locked down, pre-designed reference platforms. However, some of the current crop of reference platform solutions provide software and customization packs that are also already pre-tested and certified that allow a device manufacturer to use the reference platform to design a base device whilst still enabling localized capabilities. Multiple reference platform suppliers are fielding solutions aimed at addressing some if not all of these capabilities from MediaTek’s reference platforms to Qualcomm’s Global Pass.
The ideal reference design partner is one with the largest library of pre-tested and pre-certified localization packages. The larger the scale of the library, the more customization capability that does not endanger the integrity of the reference platform…Ideally, if the reference design partner had a large enough library of localization packages, the device manufacturer could get the best of both worlds – the time to market advantages of the reference platform and the customizability of a purpose-built design. In such a case, the more markets the reference platform can support, the more markets the device OEM can leverage their initial design to maximize their return on investment.
Figure 1. Qualcomm’s Global Pass as an example of a reference platform architecture with software packs
Aside from the platform itself, there is one other consideration to be assessed in identifying the ideal reference platform partner. Typically, when a device manufacturer decides to enter a new market, it is exactly that – a new market. As savvy global players will attest to, entering a new market involves understanding not only the technical landscape of the solutions required but also the local business ecosystem and the unique relationships and dynamics that are in play. As such, since the reference platform supplier already needs to be on the ground in a given local market to ensure pre-qualification of their modem solutions with the local network operators, it would also be an added benefit for the device manufacturer should they be able to advise their OEM partners on the local dynamics and even go so far as making introductions where appropriate. Typically, due to inherent scale advantages, reference platform suppliers with the wherewithal to deliver the large scale libraries of pre-defined options mentioned above also have the best possibility of acting in this role in the most number of potential target markets.
Design, Commercialize and….Deliver
In this and the previous article in this series, IHS has explored how reference platform suppliers can help device OEMs address the first 2 challenges faced by many manufacturers looking to expand outside of their traditional markets into other global regions – namely, designing a solution and bringing that solution to market. However, once a solution is designed and commercialized, the third challenge is how to efficiently deliver and support those solutions. As with the first 2 challenges, selection of the right reference platform supplier can help especially as it relates to SKU efficiency, configuration and provisioning. In the next and final installation of this series, IHS will assess these factors in more depth and explore in detail the role of the reference platform supplier in the delivery phase of new market penetration.