What does “mobility” really mean to the supply chain and the construction of the ecosystems in the industry? In particular, what's the future of the once critical PC/computer vertical? The launch pad for these discussions is the growth and prominence of mobile and mobility as opposed to the original “mobile vs. landline” framework.
What does it mean that this very widely shared and widely enjoyed market has now dominated the industry and is a superset that includes automotive and PC and is quickly adopting into it industry, automation, and health? The synergistic emergence of automotive-tech partnerships and new 5G “dreams” are ushering in a real growth and shift in mobile to a new “mobility” phase that will recharge the industry and the global tech supply chain over the next few years.
The first quarter of 2016 (1Q16) is rounding out the latest news in mobility for 2016 after having kicked off the year with International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, followed by the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, and most recently the last of the major, international tech events, Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, February 22-25, 2016. Granted, each event alone generated significant insight and analyses regarding the electronics industry's trajectory. Perhaps the clearest and most unifying theme is embodied in a shift in terminology from mobile to mobility. Although not much more than a morpheme change, the shift signifies a refocusing that will impact the global supply chain.
In it's tenth year, this year's MWC is not only the largest, with just under 100,000 attendees are expected, it is also underscoring the role that 5G will play in opening the floodgates for IoT and the massive data transmission necessary to power the latest steps towards computing ubiquity and mobility. The momentum in automotive electronics and mobility are synergistic and mutually supporting; as tech advances have improved the safety and efficiency of automobiles, as well as other transportation devices (seen in trams, airplanes and other vehicles at MWC this year), the global electronics supply chain has deepened and broadened.
No longer niche markets, automotive and related “mobility” markets, have rapidly taken center stage at leading electronics events, and hence, gained in supply chain prominence and importance. Automotive OEMs have been entered into partnerships with leading electronics OEMs and manufacturers, designating and aligning with “technology partners” announced during keynotes at both CES and MWC this year. While all fine and interesting, what is the actual importance of these “show events” for the global semiconductor and electronics supply chain? Or, is it just the massive PR machinations of automotive OEMs at work?
There are real, impactful outcomes of the shifts we are seeing played out on the show floor again this year. The increased attention, participation, and partnership engagement with leading electronics companies signifies the concurrent shift in consumers' deeper integration of mobile technology into their lives. Coupling the growth of automotive (and soon health/remote care) technologies with continued decreases in sales, volume, and demand for smartphones, laptops, tablets, and PCs, the ability to connect with consumers and enterprises/industry demand for the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality, and autonomous and/or assisted driving technologies is becoming increasingly essential for tech companies all along the global supply chain.
One key to the revitalization of the mobile computing market for the electronics industry is the shift from thinking about mobile to mobility. Enhancing and improving users' experiences and capabilities to manipulate and leverage data, audio/video, and communication applications is one area gaining attention at MWC. The key to the next era of mobility is 5G and MWC this year is where the curtain has truly been lifted and real (read feasible) opportunities for new services and features across markets is being showcased.
5G is still in the working-phases with standards only yet set for 2020, as EETimes r eported, “will [bring] 360-degree live-streaming virtual reality services, remote-controlled robotics, autonomous cars and the long-delayed proliferation of the connected home.” This is where we are seeing IoT and smart technology really gaining traction; it is where, when, and how mobile truly becomes mobility and ushers in new optimism for real growth along the global tech supply chain.
Let us know what you see on the horizon for these technologies in the comments section below.