The GSMA is taking a look at the future prospects for smartphones and other 5G devices with a new report that was released during CES. The report seeks to give tech providers a better sense of the global landscape ahead of the impending launch of commercial 5G networks.
In the report – appropriately titled The Future of Devices – the organization predicts that China and Korea will be early adopters of 5G technology. The US and Europe, in contrast, will be slightly more tempered in their enthusiasm.
Much of that has to do with the primacy of the smartphone, which remains the most ubiquitous and essential mobile device for consumers in developed countries. The GSMA’s 2019 Consumer Survey found that 46 percent of Chinese consumers plan to upgrade to a 5G phone as soon as they become available, while the same was true for only 28 percent of Americans.
“The device ecosystem will be critical in shaping the trajectory of 5G adoption,” said GSMA Head of Intelligence Peter Jarich. “However, it’s a mistake to believe that consumers in every market will look at 5G upgrades in the same way. Operators and device manufacturers need to understand consumer demand on a granular level to make the most of the 5G opportunity.”
The GSMA was less bullish about the appetite for smart speakers, smartwatches, and fitness trackers. Though ownership of such devices has grown steadily in recent years, many devices are not compatible with one another and major players like Amazon and Google have struggled to get people to use smart speakers for anything beyond the most basic tasks. The fragmentation of the market is consequently expected to hinder short term growth.
The GSMA went on to note that while millennials are more likely to wear fitness trackers and smartwatches, manufacturers should be doing a better job of serving older populations that would benefit from connected mobile health devices.