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China electronics await new developments

Posted: 06 Jan 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:multimedia? cellphone? lsi? crt? pdp?

After several years of phenomenal growth in subscriber base and the transition from 2G to 2.5G standard, China is poised to see a big wave of replacement purchases of handsets in 2004. The introduction of multimedia processing in mobile phones has been one of the most exciting developments in China, which has helped push the transition to the new standard.

In addition to voice communication, consumers are now looking for features that can increase the fun and efficiency of carrying a phone. Operators are scrambling to add more value to their services in the hope of slowing or reversing the slide in average revenue per user. These are the main driving forces behind the emergence of the multimedia phone.

However, in realizing multimedia performance, power consumption of the chips has become a serious concern. And since de facto standards in both mobile phone hardware and software are non-existent, finding the right combination and integrating all needed pieces represent the other technical challenge to overcome. Despite the potential, how much consumers value the new multimedia services to justify paying higher prices for phones and monthly bills should make-or-break the success of the segment.

Another development turning up on the radar screen is the digital audio/video technology used in a variety of STBs. Thanks to the upcoming 2008 Olympics to be hosted by Beijing, the government has decided to jump on the bandwagon of digital broadcasting along with the United States, Europe and Japan. Also, broadcasters are in search of a technology that can pack more channels into the same cable (or frequency) and allow versatile implementation of value-added services.

Although these factors are fueling the rapid growth of STBs, the delay in determining the national standards, as well as the high cost of system deployment, may slow down the market momentum. In the face of various competing conditional access and interactive platforms, intensive development and maintenance of all kinds of software from by LSI vendors, STB makers and broadcasters may prove to be a tremendous technical challenge this year.

Another promising segment is flat-panel display (FPD) TVs. It is expected that LCD and PDP will be complementing each other, at least in the next few years. PDP will dominate the segment of 40-inch or larger TVs, while LCD will take the lead in 30-inch or smaller screens. As for the sizes in-between, both technologies should co-exist for the moment.

With their thin sizes and increasingly affordable prices, some consumers are finding digital FPD TVs a natural match for their newly-bought DVD players or digital STBs. Despite the optimism, durability and picture performance in comparison with CRT TV - such as color saturation, brightness and contrast ratio - remain the most important technical challenges. To become a hot consumer item, FPD technology may still require constant breakthroughs to bring the production cost in line with that of CRT technology.

- Michael F. Y. Shih


Fujitsu Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd

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