YOUR PHONE IS HERE TO STAY
There has been talk of the “end of the smartphone era.” I don’t see that happening. In my 24 years in the industry, including time at Nokia and Motorola (and now dtac), I’ve seen many attempts to dethrone the smartphone—but finally a lot of these things didn’t work. There are still material constraints that limit what manufacturers can do. If you look at Google Glass, for example, it never entered mass production. When looking at new devices, you have to ask: Is it stable? Is it easy to use? Is the interface intuitive? A smartphone is so easy to use, even a small kid can use it.
SMARTER, THINNER, CHEAPER, BUT MOSTLY SMARTER
Smartphones are here to stay, but they will evolve. We’re seeing CPUs that are 1x1mm. We’re seeing foldable screens that allow you to unfold your phone into a very big surface. While these innovations aren’t solid or affordable enough right now, what is already happening is AI. The new Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which launched last December, has a “Neural Processing Unit.” It can do instant translations of whatever you point the camera at. It can also recognize what you’re taking a picture of. Is it a kid, a pet, a sunset? The phone adapts the picture’s settings based on what you’re taking a picture of. It can also run your phone’s notifications through its neural processing unit to guess which app you’ll need to launch next.
YOUR SMARTPHONE WILL BE AT THE CENTER OF IT ALL
Another reason why smartphones are so hard to replace is that they remain the best tool to connect to other people, to the cloud and to other devices. The rise of the internet of things means we’ll have even more things for our smartphones to connect to. dtac, for example, has equipped 30 pilot farms with IoT tech to increase yields and reduce costs. Those farmers don’t want to consult that data on a laptop, they want it in their phones.
The reality though is that IoT won’t radically transform our lives, here in Thailand, until 2020. There are still many issues. People just don’t know where to start, where to get the control boxes, or whether they want to buy a lightbulb that’s 10 times more expensive than a regular one just to control it from their phone. Telcos will have an important role here, in guiding their customers and offering the connectivity for all these devices to work together. There will come a day when all salespeople working for mobile internet providers will have to be IoT experts.GOING FULLY MOBILE
As a consequence of IoT, we will abandon all old-fashioned systems like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth where we have to pair devices to one another manually. The benefit of being on a wireless mobile network is that everything is connected all the time, wherever you go. And with the advent 5G in 2020, we’ll have very fast connectivity and extremely short lag times of 1 ms. For self-driving cars, for example, you absolutely need very short latencies to react instantly to the environment. Moreover, once you’ve got 10 gigabit per second download speeds from your mobile network, do you really need to bother with Wi-Fi in your home? Just like most people no longer own a desktop, Wi-Fi is headed the same way.
SIMs, too, will soon be a thing of the past. Apple just release the Apple Watch Series 3, which can connect to a mobile network using an eSIM, without the need for you to carry your phone to use it. eSIM technology will bring a new level of convenience for mobile internet connectivity as users can activate it without the need to get a physical SIM card anymore. This will become the norm for connected devices. Your car, your handbag, your sports shoes or even your pet will be connected all the time, allowing you to better track valued items, loved ones or levels of activity by using a small 4G/3G small tracker.
That’s why the networks being built today have to be built for today and tomorrow’s devices, not yesterday’s. Spectrums like 2300MHz and 2600MHz that allow faster connection speeds that are critical to Thailand’s digital future. We need to start building our future mobile internet infrastructure today.