I remember when, during the late 90’s, the first cell phone with built-in camera appeared on the market. I wondered if this will make my photo camera useless and I have to say that, during my last holiday, it didn’t. I only took pictures with my mobile phone when the batteries were gone in my photo camera so this expectation did not become reality so far, at least not for me. Indeed here are limitations to the size of the device and lenses but, if I look back, I see tremendous innovations changing the market and our behaviour: the touchscreen, WI-FI access, access to email, internet access, PDA functionalities etc. I published a more detailed timeline on the evolution of mobility in a previous post.
What can we expect next?
PwC anticipates that 4G innovation could spawn new use cases, involving more and better streaming video, including more satisfactory viewing of commercial film and TV content from the cloud and multiplayer mobile gaming with minimal latency. Other use cases are likely to come in mobile video conferencing and voice-over-Internet services that rival or exceed the quality of traditional wire-line offerings; new device form factors better attuned to augmented reality; and other applications involving the movement of large amounts of information.
One may also expect new vertical industry use cases. For example, when paired with improved image sensing, innovative new sensors and artificial intelligence, 4G could support new use cases such as remote medical diagnosis and repair efforts by field service representatives and bring back house calls by the family physician – in virtual form. Some of these applications and use cases are possible even with 3G technology, but 4G will certainly accelerate their adoption by making them more widely available and by improving the user experience through somewhat faster downloads and lower latency.
When can we expect the innovations being released?
By 2015, PwC expects three factors associated with the transition to 4G technology – share of infrastructure investment, share of devices and share of subscribers—to reach levels that could trigger a robust period of 4G innovation. They base this expectation on the pattern observed in the same three factors in the 2G-to-3G transition. As this pattern repeats with 4G it creates the potential for a surge of 4G innovation starting no later than 2015. This 4G innovation should include new business models based on capacity improvements, and new use cases based on better video streaming and other technologies.