At its annual Huawei Analyst Summit (HAS) 2016, the Chinese telecommunications giant announced its vision for 2016 with emphasis on Internet of Things (IoT), 5G telecom services, and Virtual Reality (VR).
Huawei has already started 5G field tests with NTT Docomo. However the company says that while 5G will take another five years to arrive, it has started working to improve LTE Advanced (or 4.5G) services.
The 4.5G concept was first tested in 2014, and will continue to evolve over the next couple of years across the world. Some of the benefits of 4.5G are access to HD Voice and HD Video calls, real-time cloud computing, 2K and 4K video streaming, along with access to VR/AR based videos.
Going forward, Huawei’s real ambition is to focus on the Internet of Things. “At Huawei, we want to shake hands with the world and harness energy over a cup of coffee,” said William Xu, Huawei’s Executive Director of the Board at the HAS Summit.
While IoT has been the buzzword for some time, Huawei is looking at this differently. The company envisions a world where one gigabit internet speeds reach everyone, and each household has its own IoT ecosystem – yes, the company is looking at a larger ecosystem, rather than limiting itself to individual devices.
Huawei’s IoT ecosystem is centred around its own Lite OS, powered by narrow band networks, and complemented by connectivity management platforms. It sees the deployment of IoT in the field of smart metering for electricity, water or agriculture.
The best use case yet for an IoT ecosystem is a smart parking app, which allots parking space to a vehicle from within a mobile app, and also enables charging for the same. Such a parking system has already been deployed across China and US, and Huawei sees scope for its adoption in other countries too.
VR is also a part of Huawei’s future vision. “VR is easily perceivable and telcos are better positioned to provide video services,” Huawei’s rotating CEO, Eric Xu said during his keynote speech at the summit. The company has just unveiled a mobile-based VR headset device in China, compatible with its newly launched P9 and P9 plus devices.
Huawei is very clear on its stance: the next growth segments are definitely VR and IoT, but their need is internet with one and higher speeds. The company is betting big on digitisation, and going for a total cloud-centric approach in order to make sure that telcos are able to better manage their services once they start deploying higher internet speeds.
Huawei plans to fully cloudify its network/operator devices this year. Though digitisation is not new to telecom operators, the Chinese player wants apps and services to move to the cloud.
On the consumer side of business, Huawei believes that a lot will change this year for the company. “We still don’t have a compelling consumer business but for the next 5 to 10 years, our mission is to empower every consumer with a Huawei consumer device,” admitted Eric Xu.
But the success of Nexus 6P, co-produced with Google, has meant that Huawei is now being taken seriously outside of China as well. Recently it partnered with Leica, a big brand in the camera world, for its P9 and P9 Plus smartphones. Huawei wants to capitalise on Leica’s photography expertise, and is extending it to the P9 series.
It has also partnered with companies like Harman Kardon, Microsoft and ARM for sprucing up its product portfolio. The early fruit of Huawei Microsoft collaboration is Matebook, which runs Windows 10 and mimics Microsoft’s very own Surface Pro 4 for functionality. We are unsure if these devices will come to India, but Huawei’s other consumer offerings have been compelling.
Huawei has huge ambitions for its business for the coming years, and clearly it wants to tackle both, the enterprise and consumer end on a strong footing.
The correspondent was in Shenzhen on the invitation of Huawei, which paid for travel and accommodation