Author(s): George Jijiashvili
Last week, I attended Huawei's 15th annual Global Analyst Summit in Shenzhen, China. Once again, the phone-maker made an eye-watering investment to host the event, which was attended by more than 500 analysts and media representatives from around the world.
Huawei executives shared the company's vision on 5G, artificial intelligence, cloud services and the Internet of things, and this is also discussed in a report called Global Industry Vision 2025 released by Huawei to coincide with the event.
It became clear from the overwhelming number of presentations that 5G was the overarching theme of the conference. Observers will know that the Chinese manufacturer is ploughing money into this technology in terms of infrastructure and devices.
Huawei offered important updates on artificial intelligence and numerous other major technologies, but the announcement that had the biggest impact presented a high-level, somewhat generic road map for 5G-ready devices, showing three product categories: fixed mobile devices, mobile Wi-Fi products and smartphones. The announcement quickly grabbed the headlines and got a huge amount of coverage on social media.
Although the Chinese manufacturer expects its new 5G-enabled smartphones to arrive in the second half of 2019, we'll have to wait and see if they really are ready for prime time then. Personally, I fear they will be little more than pre-commercial devices to help with early launches, and will be more about PR than actual 5G service. The reality is that there's still a huge amount of work to be done on 5G deployment, and significant momentum for the technology is unlikely to start until at least 2021.
However, CCS Insight's latest smartphone forecast projects worldwide mobile phones sales in 2018 to rise just 0.2 percent from 2017 (see Market Forecast: Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 2018-2022). So, it's little surprise that phone-makers like Huawei are increasingly looking to 5G technology to reignite growth in mature markets.
Huawei won't be the first to make bold claims about readiness of 5G devices, but this might just take a little longer than the company expects.
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