5G mobile technology is hot. Maybe too hot.
To be sure, 5G is pushing smartphone sales to new highs. Market watcher IDC expects 5G to account for 40% of all smartphone sales this year. That could translate into as many as 539 million 5G-enabled smartphones shipping worldwide this year, according to Gartner.
Yet 5G is also still in its infancy. Over-hyped marketing messages make more promises than the mobile tech can deliver.
Yes, 5G will eventually deliver on its promises of high-speed cellular broadband, life-saving telemedicine and autonomous vehicles. Yes, 5G will eventually connect some 50 billion IoT devices. And yes, 5G will eventually obviate wired cable, DSL and fiber-optic internet connections.
But all those changes are in the near-to-middle future. For now, you’ll want to read the fine print. Because first, we have some antennas to install and some physical barriers to overcome.
Not ready for prime time
For an example of how 5G gets hyped, take a look at Apple’s recent introduction of the iPhone 12, the company’s first smartphone to support 5G. Apple sure knows how to make a splash.
During the iPhone 12’s unveiling, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg strutted his stuff next to Apple’s Tim Cook, both of them extolling the virtues of 5G. They might have been delivering a miracle cure to a long-beleaguered populace. But the only cure they offered was for their own smartphone sales figures, which have been declining since early last year.
Apple iPhone 12: Connects to a 5G signal—if you can find one
Were Hans and Tim lying about the brilliance of 5G? No, they just neglected to mention how much time will be needed to achieve it.
3 ways to 5G
To understand why 5G is still a work in progress, it helps to know a bit about the technology. One important fact is that there are actually 3 types of 5G networks:
> Low-band 5G: Uses a frequency range similar to 4G (600 to 800 MHz), but offers slightly better performance by delivering 30 to 250 megabits per second (Mbps).
> Mid-band 5G: Currently the most widely deployed 5G signal, it operates on 2.5 to 3.7 GHz microwaves and offers speeds of 100 to 900 Mbps. It’s a speed bump, to be sure, but not the one we’ve all been waiting for.
> High-band 5G: The most widely anticipated and yet least deployed version. Its 25 to 39 GHz millimeter waves are capable of delivering download speeds that would be world-changing—if only they could travel through walls and windows.
Hide and seek
5G is here now, kind of. Your snazzy new iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S20 can jump on a high-band 5G signal right now—if, that is, you can find one.
Big metropolitan areas such as New York City and Philadelphia have a few millimeter-wave antennas here and there. If you stumble onto the right spot, connecting to one of these antennas is as easy as waking up your phone. But keeping that delicious high-speed goodness? That’s another matter entirely.
Millimeter waves are notoriously weak. They don’t like to travel long distances. And unlike their lower-frequency brethren, they can’t float through solid objects.
So if you’re lucky enough to find a high-band signal, you’ll have to enjoy it while standing still. Walking half a block could demote you from gobs of gigabits to a mild megabit mélange.
A 5G future
Like any new technology, 5G will need to get through its growing pains. Then it can mature into the basis for vast, reliable high-speed networks.
In the near future, low-band 5G will be relegated to emerging nations. The industrialized world will perfect mid-band coverage while also taking successive steps towards wider deployment of high-band 5G.
Qualcomm envisions a 5G-connected smart city
When that near future comes to pass, we’ll start to see a wave of disruption in a wide range of verticals. For example, gaming will finally cut the cord and begin to live its best mobile life. Similarly, ISPs will wake up to the harsh reality that we don’t need their gigabit pipes anymore. (Why would we, since we’ll just grab those gigabytes out of the air?)
5G should also make smart cities a reality. A great, silent conversation will begin between smart devices—including smart cars, phones, sidewalks, traffic lights and billboards—and the businesses that line Main Street, USA. If that sounds today like a sci-fi flick, tomorrow it’ll just sound like home.
For now, we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with only marginally faster mobile data. Until the eggheads in Verizon’s basement figure out how to bring millimeter waves to the masses, it’s mid-band all the way.
Is that all we hoped for? Is that all we were promised? No. But it does let us peek into the not-too-distant future of high-band 5G. For now, that’ll have to do.
Have you connected yet with the Intel Partner Alliance? It’s the new, streamlined platform designed to help you get the maximum benefit from Intel’s partner programs while also learning about the latest technologies.
The program gets explained in a new video featuring Jason Kimrey, Intel’s general manager of U.S. channel scale and partners. Jason works with solution providers, distributors, systems integrators and software partners, helping them harness value from today’s new and disruptive technologies.
In a new “Pardon the Integration” video, Jason speaks with Ed Hannan, senior digital content manager at The Channel Co.
Jason and Ed discuss the Intel Partner Alliance’s roles and benefits, personalization features and partner portal, new capabilities for partner training and marketing, and more.
Get to know the new Intel Partner Alliance program. Watch the “Pardon the Integration” video now:
You already know that COVID-19 has many people working from home. But what else has changed?
To find out, Robert Half Technology, a job-placement firm for IT professionals, recently surveyed more than 2,400 senior managers in the U.S. The survey results have been published in the company’s 2021 Technology Salary Guide.
Here are some of the top findings:
> Top changes of working during a pandemic: More frequent communication from leadership (cited by 38% of respondents); improved collaboration (37%); more innovation (32%); greater transparency into business priorities (31%); and more efficient processes (30%).
> Top hiring industries: Healthcare, technology, financial services, and government.
> Top management concern: Retaining valued employees (cited by over 80%).
> Top work challenges related to the pandemic: Employee morale (cited by 47%); heavy workloads and burnout (47%); lowered salaries (39%); staff dissatisfied with management (29%); and employees losing interest in working for the organization (26%).
> Top IT certifications in demand: AWS certified solutions architect; certified cloud security professional; Microsoft certified Azure solutions architect; Salesforce certified development lifecycle and deployment designer; and others.
> Top IT salaries by title: Chief information officer ($175K - $300K); chief technology officer ($153K - $267K); chief security officer ($156K - $281K); VP of IT ($146K - $239K); big data engineer ($133K - $227K); IT security manager ($124K - $213K).
> Top hiring changes as a result of the pandemic: Conducting remote interviews and onboarding (cited by 54%); shortened hiring processes (42%); and hiring for fully remote jobs (42%).
> Top reasons why organizations use interim professionals: To scale the team (cited by 40%); evaluating a person for a full-time job (39%); gaining access to specialized skills (37%); adding flexibility (34%); gaining support for special projects (34%); and alleviating the burden on full-timers (32%).
> Top IT skills in demand: Agile, cloud, Java, Linux, Python, virtualization, and others.
> Top job perks: Flexible work schedules (now offered by 46% of organizations); remote-work options (44%); paid parental leave (33%); and employee discounts (26%).
Learn more: Download the Robert Half Salary Guide 2021 (registration required)
Now is a good time to be in hardware.
People who have held onto their jobs during the pandemic are also holding onto a lot of cash. After all, they’re not buying airplane tickets, not booking hotel rooms, not buying theater or concert tickets, not buying work clothes.
But they are buying PCs, smartphones and smart-home devices.
Plenty of PCs
PC shipments worldwide will grow 8% this year, predicts market watcher Canalys. That will mean total ships of nearly 487 million units. This rising tide will lift all PC categories: desktops, notebooks and tablets.
Notebook PCs will be the fastest-growing sector, with unit shipments rising 9.4% this year, for a total of 258.2 million units worldwide, Canalys says. Tablet shipments will rise 8.3%, the market watcher predicts, for a full-year total of 174.2 million units. And desktops shipments are forecast to rise 4.4% this year, for a global total of 64.4 million units.
Growth would be even higher if the industry wasn’t facing supply issues, Canalys adds. Some items remain on backlog, especially PCs for students and workers affected by pandemic restrictions.
“The PC industry is set to grow for years to come,” says Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi.
EMEA PCs hit new high
Looking just at PCs in the EMEA (Europe/Middle East/Africa) region, market watcher IDC believes shipments this year will be the highest ever recorded: 96.4 million units, representing a year-on-year increase of 16%.
“Lockdown durations continue beyond the expectations of many,” says IDC researcher Simon Thomas. “The unprecedented demand for personal computing devices continues in parallel.”
Graphical processing units are a leading indicator for the PC market, since nearly every system gets a GPU before it ships. And sales of these components are soaring.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, GPU shipments worldwide rose 12.4%, compared with the year-earlier quarter, finds Jon Peddie Research.
Looking ahead, JPR predicts that global GPU shipments will grow from 2020 to 2025 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7%. That would mean a total of 419 million units by 2025.
Smartphones dial up
Who needs a new phone? Quite a few people. Worldwide shipments of smartphones will rise by over 11% this year, for a total of 1.5 billion units, predicts research firm Gartner.
Gartner believes 2 factors will drive the growth. One, the availability of new phones, spurring people to replace their older phones. And two, the availability of lower-end 5G phones, some retailing for as little as $200.
Last year, smartphone shipments worldwide fell by 10.5% as consumers held onto their wallets. So if the Gartner forecast holds true, that should be good news for phone companies and telco operators alike.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite: a mid-priced 5G phone
How quickly 5G catches is something of an open question. But Gartner believes this could be the year, especially in China. That's where the firm predicts 5G phones will represent nearly 6 in every 10 new phones sold this year.
Smart home: looking smart
Smart-home devices have become really popular. Fully 50% of U.S. consumers now own at least one. That's according to NPD. Just a year earlier, the figure was only 35%, so that's a big leap.
What are the most commonly owned smart-home devices? They would be security cameras, security systems, garage-door openers, and smart lighting.
To get these figures, NPD recently polled more than 5,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 and older.
Looking ahead to the rest of this years, NPD predicts that smart-home shipments will rise by 9% over last year. The firm also expects some segments—including smart locks, smart entry and smart lighting—to grow at least twice that rate. Pretty smart.
How is the pandemic affecting the world of tech? Well, as many as 1 in 4 jobs could continue to be done remotely. Cybersecurity spending is up. And brands are spending big bucks on Amazon.
That’s the latest from top researchers, survey firms and market watchers. Here’s your tech provider’s roundup.
The future of work after the pandemic
With millions of people now getting vaccinated, this could be the beginning of the pandemic’s end. That makes now a good time to ask: Will the workplace changes of the last year persist? Or will we go back to “normal”?
The smart consultants at McKinsey & Co. believe they know. They just published a report on the future of work, based on 800 occupations grouped into 10 “work arenas.”
One thing McKinsey has realized: The need for physical proximity varies by occupation. Medical care, for example, almost always requires physical proximity between a healthcare provider and a patient. Same for barber shops and nail salons. But computer-based office work? Not so much.
Here are some of McKinsey’s predictions and insights:
> Roughly 20% to 25% of the workforce in advanced economies could do their work from home from 3 to 5 days a week. This represents 4 to 5 times more remote work than we saw before the pandemic.
> Some companies already plan to shift to more flexible workspaces after the pandemic. On average, companies say they’ll reduce office space by 30%.
> Business travel will rebound, but not fully. McKinsey believes that up to 20% of business travel may not return.
> Shopping online is here to stay. Roughly three-quarters of people who used digital channels for the first time during the pandemic say they’ll continue using them after the pandemic.
> AI is looking better. Two-thirds of executives said they’re stepping up their investments in automation and AI, either somewhat or significantly. What’s more, these investments correlate with physical proximity. That is, the more a job involves close human interaction, the more likely it is to be targeted for automation and AI.
> Due to shifts in the workforce, as many as 1 in 4 people may need to find a new occupation by 2030.
Cybersec and the pandemic
A lot has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes cybersecurity.
Nearly three-quarters of IT decision-makers say they face new security challenges with increased complexity. These challenges include protecting users now working from home, keeping applications updated, and implementing Zero Trust approaches.
That’s according to a new survey report issued from Tanium, a provider of endpoint solutions. Tanium commissioned PSB Insights to conduct an online survey of 500 IT decision-makers, both in the United States and the UK, who work in a wide range of industries.
Here’s some of what Tanium and PSB found:
> Nearly 9 in 10 respondents say that before the pandemic, they had felt confident in their ability to secure remote workers. Yet now, only about 4 in 10 say they found it easy to actually shift employees.
> Nearly a third (30%) of respondents say they’ve observed end users failing to keep their software updated.
> IT groups are shifting their spending priorities toward cybersec. The areas most commonly cited for new investment are data security (cited by 63%); threat detection (60%); security/compliance software and services (59%); and device management (50%). In addition, nearly 4 in 10 respondents say they’ve accelerated their investments in tech that supports a Zero Trust architecture.
> Risky behavior is on the upswing. As the chart below (courtesy of Tanium) shows, the most commonly observed risks are storing sensitive data (cited by 41% of respondents); clicking on malicious emails (38%); and inappropriate admin access (37%).
Brands ♥ Amazon
That smile in the Amazon logo just got a little wider. With so many of us are cooped up at home during the pandemic lockdown, we’re shopping online — a lot.
Brands have taken notice. Today, nearly 8 in 10 brands are selling on Amazon, up from about half (55%) a year ago, according to a new survey report from Feedvisor.
Other findings from its survey include:
> Nearly 9 in 10 brands now use Amazon’s advertising platform. That’s 21% more than did so a year ago.
> Half of all brands say they experience a return of 7x or more when using Amazon advertising. Another 40% or so say their return is in the range of 4x to 6x.
> Brands are increasing their ad spending on Amazon, too. Nearly 6 in 10 spend over $60K a month on Amazon advertising. A year ago, only about 4 in 10 spent that much.
For Intel’s new chief executive officer, Pat Gelsinger, heading up the company is a bit like coming back home.
Gelsinger first joined Intel in 1979 for what was his first real job. He was just 18. Gelsinger moved to Silicon Valley and was hired by Intel as a quality-control technician.
He stayed at Intel for the next 30 years. During that time, Gelsinger earned degrees from Santa Clara and Stanford Universities, joined the Intel engineering teams that introduced the 386 and 486 processors, earned himself no fewer than 8 patents, and was promoted to senior VP.
In 2009 Gelsinger left Intel to join EMC, where he eventually became CEO of VMware. Late last year, Intel announced that Gelsinger would be returning, this time as Intel’s CEO.
Check out Pat Gelsinger’s round trip from Intel and back. Download the “Pat Gelsinger: A journey back home” infographic PDF below.
If you’re a managed services provider that includes in your offerings the Intel NUC Mini PC, Intel has 5 new sales resources for you.
As you probably know, the Intel NUC Mini PCs offer high-level performance in a compact form factor. That includes the latest CPUs, security features and remote management.
The new sales resources for MSPs are available now on the Intel NUC Navigator site. This site provides resources to help MSPs like you sell and deploy a range of Intel NUC business devices for a wide range applications. Those can include digital signage, content rendering, and IoT edge analytics.
The Intel NUC Navigator site now features four Intel NUC devices for business: Intel NUC 11 Pro, Intel NUC 9 Pro, Intel NUC Pro Chassis Element, and Intel NUC Rugged Chassis Element. All four are built on the Intel vPro platform, which offers features for hardware-based security and remote management.
The new Intel NUC sales resources come on top of a slew of NUC sales resources Intel added last year. Here’s what’s on tap now:
> Top 5 Reasons to Choose Intel NUC: Why your customers should equip their workforce with versatile and reliable Intel NUC business solutions. They’ll make you rethink the “power of small.”
> Top 6 Questions About Intel NUC: Learn how these Mini PCs can benefit your customers, protect their security, and more.
> Four Ways to Grow Your Business with Intel NUC: Check out creative new ways to solidify your existing customer relationships — and add new ones, too.
> Intel NUC Objection Guide: Check out these 4 common customer concerns, and how you can respond to them by informing and engaging your customers.
> Infographic: More business device choices than ever before: Compare and contrast the four Intel NUC devices designed for business: the Intel NUC 11 Pro, Intel NUC 9 Pro, Intel NUC Pro Chassis Element, and Intel NUC Rugged Chassis Element.
To get these new MSP sales resources, visit the Intel NUC Navigator site today.
New to NUC? Check out the Intel NUC Mini PCs for business.
The world’s best gaming PCs have lots of components in common. After all, how many processors and GPUs can perform such Herculean feats as running “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla” at 4K with ray-tracing enabled?
Among the most popular of these common components is Intel’s 10th gen Core i9-10900K processor. This CPU features a 20MB cache and 10 cores, each capable of boosting up to 5.3GHz. So it’s no wonder that the best gaming rigs have this engine under the hood.
But that raises a tough question: With so many AAA gaming PCs using the same components, what (if anything) sets one system apart from the others? Or as your customer might ask, Why would you select one system over the others?
A Dell by any other name
A case in point is the Alienware Aurora R11. Peer inside its otherworldly chassis, and you’ll spy a few must-have components. These include the optional Intel Core i9-10900K and the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090. With the Aurora R11’s price tag fast approaching $4,000, you’d expect nothing less.
Alienware Aurora R11: style, substance and support from Dell
But why would you or your customer choose the Aurora over a similarly spec’d machine from, say, Maingear or MSI? One important answer has to do with scale.
When it comes to scale, Alienware’s parent company, Dell, is a behemoth. Dell’s silicon tentacles surround the world, dominating disparate verticals from healthcare to civil engineering. Whether you find that reassuring or distasteful, the fact remains that when your Alienware-using customers need help, they’ll appreciate Dell’s tentacles a great deal.
That’s because owning an Aurora R11 comes with the benefit of Dell support. Dell technicians are standing by 24x7 to help stranded gamers. Whether your customer is located in Mississippi or Mumbai, they can have replacement parts shipped out fast. Plus, upgrades are always just a click away. Dell even makes its own displays and peripherals, so compatibility isn’t an issue here.
Pivot 180 degrees from Dell/Alienware, and you’ll arrive at famed boutique gaming-rig designer Falcon Northwest. Rather than take Dell’s macro view of the worldwide gaming landscape, Falcon NW opts for a micro approach. The company obsesses over every tiny detail to ensure that its high-quality hardware leaves gamers totally satisfied.
Falcon NW’s ultra-customizable Talon gaming PC offers the same Intel Core i9-10900K 10-core processor and GeForce RTX 3080 GPU as does the Aurora R11. But Falcon NW takes things one step further. It handcrafts what looks and feels like the Lamborghini of gaming PCs.
Falcon Northwest Talon: it's all in the details
Clocking in at around $4,900—or more than $1,000 above the Alienware—the Talon features some bells and whistles that help justify the price bump.
The internal design, for instance, is pristine. Every electrical lead, every data cable is meticulously gathered and secured to the interior chassis to promote airflow and reduce wear and tear.
Even the standard EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750W power supply is perfectly matched to Falcon NW’s system. A PSU like this provides enough overhead to support multiple graphics cards, coolers and solid-state drives. And it does so without the need for expensive, time-consuming upgrades.
Add to that a dizzying array of both technical and aesthetic options, and you come out with an Olympic-level gaming rig.
Have customers who need some money left over to address little expenses like food and shelter? They’ll be glad to know that MSI offers the MEG Trident X for around $3,300. That’s roughly $700 less than the Aurora rig and $1,600 less than Falcon’s. Yet you’ll never guess which processor you’ll find under the hood.
MSI MEG Trident X: barely 5 in. tall, yet packs a Core i9 punch
MSI’s lower price tag will still bring your customers that vaunted Core i9. Here again, Intel’s 10-core engine crunches 1s and 0s like it’s going out of style. All those cores operate at a minimum of 3.7GHz, but go ahead and overclock if you like.
But with this size discount, something’s gotta give. And with MSI, that something is the GPU. The MEG Trident X’s graphics options top out with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Not to worry though, your customers will still be able to dial in upwards of 30 fps in “World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.”
MSI’s top-end gamer will not only save your customers money, but also takes up less of their precious office or home space. The Trident X box measures a diminutive 5.1 x 15.1 x 15.6 inches. That’s more than 3 inches shorter than the Aurora and nearly 4 inches narrower than the Talon.
Today’s gaming rigs may share some big-name components, they differ in lots of other important ways. Design ethos, build quality, and support infrastructure create chasms of difference. That’s true no matter how many components they share.
All this is good news for channel partners. Your customer base is made up of myriad unique personalities and needs. It’s good to know there’s a gaming PC that’s right for each of them. Vive la différence!
With cyberthreats becoming more frequent and more sophisticated, and with so many end users now working remotely, your customers need PCs with the most robust security available.
Software alone often won’t cut it. That’s why it’s worth checking out the hardware-based security.
You’ll find hardware security capabilities on the 11th gen Intel Core vPro mobile processors. Introduced just last month, this family of Intel CPUs has been designed to power thin and light Windows-based mobile PCs used by businesses.
You may already know that the Intel vPro platform offers features for wireless remote management. That includes Intel Active Management Technology, hardware-based remote remediation that helps return a PC to a known good state, no matter where it’s located — even when the OS is down. With so many people now working from home, that’s important.
But the Intel vPro platform also offer three levels of powerful, hardware-based security features: protection below the OS; application and data security; and a new level of advanced threat detection.
Defense in depth
It all starts with Intel Hardware Shield. Available exclusively on all Intel vPro platform-based devices, this hardware-based solution aims to shut down an entire class of attacks that has long evaded software-only solutions.
With the new 11th gen processors, Intel Hardware Shield adds the industry’s first silicon-enabled AI threat detection. This helps stop ransomware and crypto-mining attacks.
Within the Intel Hardware Shield are 2 new and powerful security features:
> Intel Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET): Prevents return- and jump-oriented programming (ROP/JOP) malware, in which hackers reuse existing code instead of injecting code to implement malware algorithms.
> Intel Threat Detection Technology (TDT): Helps software-based threat detection agents take full advantage of the advanced telemetry capabilities in Intel hardware to detect ransomware and crypto-mining. TDT also lowers the performance impact of security workloads by offloading memory scans to the graphics engine; this increases a PC’s battery life, too.
So much for the tech specs, which your business customers may not care about. But they should be interested in the Intel vPro platform’s new business and security benefits. These include:
> Protection of PC users with expanded below-the-OS security features that help ensure that both the OS and virtual environments are running securely on Intel hardware.
> Proactive detection of emerging threats, without sacrificing the user experience.
> Elimination of an entire class of attacks that have evaded software-only measures.
> Helping end users to stop worrying about security, and to instead focus on what’s most important — namely, their work.
> Saving both time and money, thanks to out-of-band remote management.
> A bug-bounty program that invites the security community to collaborate in order to discover and eliminate issues.
Today, PC security matters like never before. Check out the new, powerful security features of the 11th gen Intel vPro mobile processors — and tell your business customers about them, too.