Huawei predicts the 'superphone' by 2020

The natural evolution of the smartphone will lead to the superphone being developed by 2020, according to Huawei, which will further digitalise lives by tying in with 5G and the IoT.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Chinese technology giant Huawei has announced its vision for the next generation of the smartphone: The "superphone", which will further integrate the physical with the digital world, where everything that can be connected will be connected.

According to Huawei, the smartphone-to-superphone evolution will take place within a 12-year cycle similar to the one that saw Motorola invent the first feature phone in 1995 and Apple end that cycle by inventing the first smartphone in 2007.

Following this established 12-year trend, the superphone will be developed by 2020, argued Shao Yang, president of Strategy Marketing at Huawei Consumer Business Group, while speaking at Huawei Innovation Day Asia in Singapore.

"Inspired by the biological evolution, the mobile phone we currently know will come to life as the superphone," said Shao on Thursday afternoon.

"The intelligence of the superphone will continue to evolve and develop itself into digital intelligence, capable of empowering us with interactions with the world. Through evolution and adaptation, the superphone will be more intelligent, enhancing and even transforming our perceptions, enabling humans to go further than ever before."

The Chinese company said the superphone will take advantage of advancements in big data, cloud computing, and digital intelligence by tying in with the Internet of Things (IoT), where all physical things are digitalised.

Huawei said it is already working towards building the IoT by developing intelligence technologies such as big data analytics, software-defined networking, digital intelligence, and circumstantial intelligence platforms; connection technologies including IoT platforms and multi-device network standards; perception technologies as sensors, object recognition, and 3D scanning; and interactivity technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality.

It has also established partnerships with Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Volkswagen to work towards connected cars, with the former two companies now integrating Huawei-built 4G communication modules within their vehicles.

Huawei has more than 76,000 employees focused on technology research and development (R&D), 16 R&D centres worldwide -- including a AU$30 million National Training and Innovation Centre in Sydney -- and R&D investment amounting to approximately 190 billion RMB over the last 10 years.

The company also announced plans to invest an extra $600 million into 5G technology research and development so it can launch its 5G network by 2020, which will be 100 times faster than speeds reached on 4G.

"With our commitment to creating value through innovation, Huawei has driven the technology industry by focusing on ecosystem, alliance, and partnerships," Shao said.

"From smartphones, connected cars, wearables, to smart cities, mobile technology innovation continues to evolve, profoundly changing the relationship between humans and the world.

"Our concept of the superphone opens a dimension of infinite possibilities. Through continued aggressive investments in R&D, coupled with the brightest technical minds and talent, we are poised to create technology that will serve and empower mankind."

While the company waits for its superphone prediction to come to pass, it continues climbing the top of the smartphone game worldwide: Huawei last month announced that it had shipped 27.4 million smartphones for the three months to September 30, a jump of 63 percent year on year.

The company attributed its rise in smartphone shipments to increased interest in mid- and high-end devices, which accounted for 33 percent of total shipments.

"This quarter's results clearly showcase the continued success of our growth strategy," Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer, said in a statement.

"We are especially proud of the stellar growth we've seen outside of China and the increased demand for our mid- to high-end devices. At this rate, we are confident in our ability to reach our smartphone shipment target of 100 million units by year's end."

Huawei was forecast in July to ship 100 million smartphones by the end of 2015, and has been edging closer to this each quarter.

Huawei smartphone shipments to Europe almost doubled by September 30, growing by 98 percent year on year, with the company's smartphones now holding 12.4 percent overall market share in Spain; 45.7 percent market share in Spain's high-end device sector; 10.9 percent overall market share in Italy; and 27.9 percent of high-end smartphone market share in Italy.

The Middle East and Africa region saw a substantial increase of 70 percent in shipments, while Chinese shipments grew by 81 percent year on year, holding 15.2 percent market share in China -- the number one position in the country.

Huawei's global market share had reached 9.5 percent as of the end of the quarter, placing it as the third-highest smartphone maker worldwide during January to August.

Since their respective launches, total shipments for the Huawei Mate 7 have reached 6.5 million units; the P7 has shipped 7.5 million units; and 4 million Huawei P8 smartphones have shipped. The high-end flagship Mate S, launched in September, is now available in 48 countries worldwide, including China, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

The Huawei-built 5.7-inch Google Nexus 6P will also likely achieve a higher penetration rate for the company.

The full-metal 6P sports a 5.7-inch 1440p display; an eight-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM; a 3450mAh battery; a 12.3-megapixel rear camera; and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

Huawei in July announced fiscal results for the first half of 2015, generating revenue of 175.9 billion yuan ($28.3 billion), a year-on-year increase of 30 percent, with operating margins of 18 percent.

The company said all three of its business units -- enterprise, consumer, and carrier -- experienced growth in the six months until June, with mid- and high-end smartphones again carrying the company over the line.

"Huawei's mid-range and high-end smartphones ... have made solid progress, helping us guarantee quality and sustainable growth in the consumer business," Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou said at the time.

"Thanks to the extensive application of our cloud computing, storage, agile network, and other flagship products and solutions in the smart city, finance, education, and ISP markets in and outside of China, our growth in the enterprise business began to pick up in the first half of this year."

Last year, Huawei shipped 138 million devices, including 75 million smartphones, a 7.8 percent increase over its 2013 results.

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Huawei Innovation Day in Singapore as a guest of Huawei

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