Global Growth of Smartphone Sales Continues to Decline

Today’s topics include a new report finding global growth for smartphone sales declining; overall revenues diminishing for IBM; word that Fujitsu and Huawei are joining the artificial intelligence chip space; and Microsoft enabling nested virtualization on select Azure virtual machines.

Some 70 percent of the world's population will be connected by mobile devices by 2022, up from 21 percent of the global population in 2013, according to a new study by Forrester Research. And with that approaching saturation of mobile devices, future global growth will likely be in the single digits.

The seven-page global forecast of smartphones and tablets from 2017 to 2022 also reveals that the sales of large smartphones, also known as phablets, are continuing to cut into the sales of small consumer tablets.

"In terms of the growth rate in sales [of mobile phones] we are seeing a consistent decline from 2012," Satish Meena, the author of the study, told eWEEK. These patterns will result in expectations of a 67 percent global penetration of smartphones by 2022 "and at that point very few countries will have space for adding new subscribers," Meena noted.

As it has had to do for 21 straight quarters, IBM on July 18 reported declining revenue in its most recent earnings performance.

Like several other longtime IT product and service providers, IBM continues to take sharp financial hits in making the switchover to software and cloud services from its traditional IT hardware businesses. On the bright side, the earnings report again beat Wall Street projections for the quarter, as IBM’s $2.97 earnings per share beat the $2.74 earnings per share expected by Thomson Reuters analysts.

But there was no ignoring the fact that Big Blue's revenue has decreased each quarter since April 2012. Overall, revenue in the first quarter of 2017 was down 4 percent and totaled $19.29 billion, coming in shy of the $19.46 billion projected by Thomson Reuters analysts.

System makers Fujitsu and Huawei Technologies reportedly are both planning to develop processors optimized for artificial intelligence workloads, moves that will put them into competition with the likes of Intel, Google, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices.

Tech vendors are pushing hard to bring artificial intelligence and deep learning capabilities into their portfolios to meet the growing demand generated by a broad range of workloads, from data analytics to self-driving vehicles.

Fujitsu engineers are working on what the company is calling a deep learning unit that will include 16 deep learning processing elements. Huawei, meanwhile, is building an AI-focused processor that will integrate a CPU, GPU and AI features onto a single piece of silicon.

Nested virtualization is now a valid deployment option on Microsoft's new Dv3 and Ev3 series Azure virtual machines.

Dv3 and Ev3 series virtual machines use the Hyper-Threading technology found in Intel's Haswell and Broadwell chip architectures, allowing Microsoft to wring more processing power out of the underlying hardware and support larger virtual machine sizes, according to the company.

Currently available in a handful of Azure regions in the U.S., Western Europe and Asia Pacific, the new Dv3 and Ev3 can support up to 64 virtual cores and 431 virtual cores, respectively. That added headroom provides ample power for nested virtualization, or the ability to run a virtual machine within another virtual machine.