Some of the pertinent trends and dynamics likely to dominate the smartphone and consumer electronics markets this year include AI, IoT and 5G
At the turn of this century, when mobile phones were in the infancy stage in the country, I was among the first few subscribers. I have always been fascinated by technology and my purchase was solely driven by my curiosity about a technology that had the potential to unleash a digital revolution. I soon realised that I was in an exclusive club, where more people bought mobile phones for their flaunt value. After all, not only were handsets expensive, but call charges were prohibitive during those days. Fast forward to 2017 and the mobile industry in India has undergone a complete transformation.
We are not only the fastest growing smartphone market in the world, but also the second largest market for smartphones, according to a latest research.
There are a large number of players in the smartphone industry and the healthy competition among these players has driven down handset prices. Ditto for data! Voice calls and data prices have been coming down steadily and today India has the cheapest 4G data packs across the world. These trends augur well for India, a market known to be extremely price sensitive.
It’s not only the mobile industry that has seen a revolution. Take for example the consumer electronics industry. For most of us, a television, refrigerator or washing machine were essential white goods, but if somebody would have told us that they could one day start communicating with one another, most of us would have laughed. But that’s precisely what today’s machines do — communicate and do much more than what they could achieve individually.
Clearly, technology is bringing about paradigm shifts in the way we connect, communicate, exchange information and conduct our day-to-day lives. It is making innovations possible and driving demand. As the connected generation continues to expand, we are leaving no stone unturned in engaging with consumers through groundbreaking innovations, hitherto unheard of.
Smartphones will continue getting smarter and will dominate any discussion around emerging technologies. The same can be said about smart home products that are increasingly becoming omnipresent. Wi-Fi connectivity and app control, thanks to Internet of Things (IoT), are expected to become commonplace in kitchens. Similarly, refrigerators, washers, dryers, doorbells, light bulbs, ceiling fans and smoke alarms will get smarter by the day. In the healthcare sector, wearable devices, fitness trackers and daily medications that come with audible reminders will go popular. Hence, we can see the dynamics are not limited to sectors, but disruptive all across.
For India, in particular, the following three technologies are likely to dominate headlines in 2018:
Artificial Intelligence (AI): This is revolutionising the way we go about our daily lives. Most of you would have already got a glimpse of how AI works by the virtue of intelligent assistants that sit unnoticed on your smartphones, but have quietly taken over many of the functions you manually did. But AI is not just about smartphones and the mobile industry alone. AI has given us speech recognition, more effective web search and self-driving cars, among other innovations. Just about every industry today is being transformed by artificial intelligence: from retail and entertainment to transportation and healthcare. And very soon, everything from our phones to our refrigerators will possess some sort of intelligence to help us seamlessly interact with our surroundings.
Internet of Things (IoT): A world powered by the Intelligence of Things will open up entirely new possibilities. In this world, every machine around us will be intelligence-enabled, capable of understanding and anticipating our needs. For starters, imagine all your home appliances connected to the internet and having the ability to do things without your intervention. That is the kind of possibility IoT holds. IoT will not only automate a lot of processes, it will also make devices intelligent, helping us derive more out of them.
5G: My first mobile phone connected to a 2G network and it took nearly a decade for us to enter the 3G era. But since then the network industry in India has made rapid strides. Today, 4G has completely eclipsed 3G technology in the country. This evolution of telecom technology has transformed how we share and consume information. 4G is not only dominant as a technology, but it’s much more affordable and is bringing about a digital transformation in the country.
By utilising ultra-high broadcast frequencies, 5G will deliver data transfer speeds that are up to 200 times faster than current 4G networks.
5G will make it possible for users to enjoy rich 4K video and more immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences. 5G technology makes it possible to seamlessly facilitate data-heavy tasks while also opening the door for greater automation in more aspects of daily life, allowing technology to streamline everything from the Internet of Things (IoT) and self-driving cars to robotics.
The author is global vice president, Samsung Electronics