Every year there's one or two hot technologies that dominate the headlines at the major trade shows, and as predicted quad-core processors have loomed large over Mobile World Congress 2012.
That's pretty much 12 months after dual-core chips were stealing the show at MWC 2011, but while many handset makers have jumped on board the quad-core bandwagon straight away, Sony reckons quad-core phones will only truly come into their own in 2013.
No surprise that that's exactly when Sony is expecting its own debut quad-core offering to emerge, of course. But Sony Mobile product marketing manager Stephen Sneeden believes it's ultimately the right strategy – though tellingly he hedges his bets by insisting he's only voicing his personal opinion, rather than an official Sony standpoint.
“We're going to join quad-core when we feel that the performance matches the battery efficiency,” he said in comments reported by CNET. “Because right now we don't feel that is there. What we are going to be doing in the second-half of the year is moving to the Cortex A15 architecture, which we feel outperforms the current quad-core architecture.
“You'll see in 2013, as we're evaluating the quad-core performance where it makes sense, where you're not suffering in quality and the performance truly is there, and there really is something that demanding applications need. That's when we make the right move to quad-core.”
Interesting point, though it's worth noting that Sony Ericsson was slow to get on board the dual-core bandwagon too, mainly because Qualcomm's dual-core chips only emerged months after Nvidia's Tegra 2 invasion on MWC 2011.
And while Sneeden is right that it's not a simple matter of quad-core beats dual-core beats single core, consumers generally think it is, and they're going to need a simple argument made clearly and quickly to believe otherwise – an argument, it's fair to say, that Sony Ericsson's single-core Xperia smartphones weren't able to make in 2011.
The problem is that battery life may be one of the biggest influences on our day-to-day user experience with mobile devices, but it's simply not glamorous enough to stick on a billboard. Quad-core processing, with its knee-jerk connotations of speed, power and “lightning-fast performance” will win the argument nearly every time – regardless of how negligible the real-world improvement really is and what it costs in terms of battery life.
Ultimately Sneeden's comments are right in principle, but given his own job title surely he must know better than most that marketing has very little to do with principle.