During this year's, seventh Global mobile broadband forum in Tokyo, Deputy Chairman of the board and Huawei Rotating CEO Ken Hu took to the stage to share his vision of the mobile future and presented the XLabs Wireless. This brand new initiation aims to be the platform which will unite carriers, developers and companies from different verticals.
Together, they must build an open ecosystem of mobile apps which will reshape the future of business, entertainment, and everyday living. XLabs Wireless consists of three elements – the mLab, with the focus on people, vLab, with the focus on verticals, and hLab, focusing on households.
Discussing the future of mobile, Hu said there has been an explosion of mobile applications. Currently, more than seven million of them can be found, just in Apple’s and Google’s app stores. Out of this, he draws the conclusion that soon enough, all services will be delivered through mobile applications. Being such an omnipresent force, it’s hard to estimate exactly how many apps there will be. Their key enablers, and drivers, however, are mobile networks, sensors, man-to-machine interfaces, cloud computing, AI and big data.
Expanding mobile networks are getting everything online – permanently, and this transformation, from an offline world into the digital one which never sleeps, has created huge opportunities and disruptions. At the same time sensors, a key player in the digitisation of all things, are getting smaller, cheaper and better. With 20 of them in a smartphone, 700 in an elevator and more than 120,000 in a smart factory, they are our gateway from the physical into the digital world.
Another important sector is the man-to-machine interface. This one has yet to be fully explored and tapped into, he believes. “We estimate that with the breakthrough of AI, we will see lots of amazing technologies that will help us make future man-machine interaction more natural, more immersive, and more intelligent,” he said. Looking at the new opportunities for the future, he places emphasis on three things: video, broadband in households, and the vertical industries. Video is seen as a crucial element to future communications, sharing and education.
Currently, it accounts for almost two thirds (60 per cent) of all online traffic, and almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all time spent online. These numbers are putting the market at a value of a whopping $700 billion. China is leading the way, a country where video accounted for 325 million subscribers in just the last two years.
Talking about households, the biggest opportunity for growth lies in the people with no access to the internet, whatsoever, as well as in those whose internet speeds are yet not good enough to support high-quality video streaming. Currently, there are around two billion households in the world, with roughly 1.3 billion having no access to fast internet, and approximately 300 million have access to internet with speeds less than 10 Mbps.
And finally, the third major opportunity is in the vertical industries, who are going digital, all over the globe. “I believe that mobile networks can be a key enabler of this digital transformation, and will open the door to lots of new opportunities,” he concluded.