As markets mature and product/service differentiation becomes difficult companies are starting to pursue next generation technologies to help reinvigorate consumer enthusiasm and keep upgrade cycles fresh. 4K or Ultra HD is coming on multiple fronts and despite some questionable benefits for some users it is widely regarded as the next evolutionary step in video. From a consumer perspective 4K is still a novel technology best reserved for early adopters, but once mobile devices with 4K screens start shipping in meaningful numbers this could help shift the market towards the mainstream.
4K TV prices continue to fall, but limited native 4K content leads many consumers to assign little value to these higher resolution screens – especially when considering the trade-offs between higher resolution and larger screen. The mobile market, however, is driven by different motivators which lead to more predictable upgrade cycles. For some consumers the newest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device is a habitual purchase every 2 to 3 years, regardless of specs or technology. While the increasing move away from fixed contracts might alter the upgrade cycle many users will still adhere to a similar time frame since the smartphone has become very much a statement of one’s public image (much like person’s clothing) – this is naturally less true for TVs.
4K adoption in the mobile space, therefore, is gated on the release of premium devices and less so on consumer demand for higher resolutions screens (aside viewing this as a differentiator) or interest in 4K content. In this report we consider the rollout of 4K mobile devices (smartphones and branded media tablets) and discuss some of the use cases surrounding these devices. In addition we discuss some of the developments and potential for new mobile video services from LTE broadcast, which could ultimately play a role in the 4K market as well.