As retailers and payment service providers look for what might be their best 5G edges, clarity is emerging about the pace of the global rollout of that new and faster mobile network technology.
As Reuters reported this week (Nov. 19), Qualcomm, the largest suppler of mobile phone chips in the world, “expects global smartphone makers to ship 450 million 5G handsets in 2021 and another 750 million in 2022. Qualcomm said 5G adoption will be faster than 4G due to the timing of commercialization of the technology in China and availability of chipsets across different price tiers.”
Other 5G Plans
That’s not the only recent news regarding the pace of 5G growth in the near term. News emerged in late October that Apple is assembling suppliers to launch the company’s first 5G iPhones. Indeed, the three new iPhone models will be powered by a Qualcomm 5G modem chip, sources familiar with the plan said. Apple is hoping to recapture its position of tech stardom by revamping its product offerings in 2020, sources told Nikkei. Sales of iPhones account for about 50 percent of Apple’s earnings. The sources also said Apple intends to distribute a minimum of 80 million of the new 5G phones. Its major competitors, Samsung and Huawei, have already launched 5G phones, as have smaller competitors Oppo and Xiaomi.
5G technology is essential to the expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), making remote surgery, self-driving cars and other advancements feasible. “The infrastructure is very costly. … Apple’s move to introduce all three 5G iPhones will increase carriers’ confidence to invest,” Eddie Han, senior industry analyst at the Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute, told Nikkei Asian Review.
As it stands, smartphone makers ranging from Huawei Technologies Co. to Samsung Electronics Co. have put 5G-capable devices on the market.
They are betting that the emergence of the latest generation of wireless technology will power innovation from smart homes to automated factories. However, Apple decided to bring the technology to the iPhone next fall, in part, to make sure that global networks can foster a true 5G user experience. The Nikkei recently reported that the firm is telling suppliers it foresees shipping 80 million iPhones at a minimum with 5G wireless modems next year.
Retail and 5G
Retailers are also getting ready for the coming 5G revolution.
The new 5G mobile network technology promises to give retailers more power to deploy leading-edge technology, and that includes efforts related to visual commerce tools.
“Retailers like to vaunt their forays into augmented and virtual reality, but current 4G connectivity isn’t fast enough to scale these capabilities to all mobile users,” is how one recent analysis put it. “Many AR experiments are still considered proof of concept, but standardizing 5G will undoubtedly accelerate the mainstreaming of connected retail.”
The focus of a good deal of those augmented reality (AR) efforts will no doubt come down to the omnichannel experience — that is, augmenting, if you will, the in-store experience for digital- and mobile-minded consumers.
“Above all, in-store AR adds a visual context to the purchasing experience,” the analysis said. “A customer can hover their smartphone over a product and see product information such as ingredients, ratings and instructions projected onto their screen.”
A glimpse of that future comes from Target. According to Mobile-Ar.Reality.News, the retail chain “has been on a bit of an augmented reality advertising shopping spree via Snapchat lately. The latest example, revealed on earlier in October, comes via a pair of Halloween-themed experiences, available in the camera carousel in Snapchat.” As the report notes, this AR advertising effort follows a similar push on Snapchat over the summer, “a shopping mini-game that challenged users to catch home goods and seasonal products in their cart by tilting their heads.”
5G promises to play a big role in retail and payments, along with other areas, in the coming years, and these developments are signs of what’s coming.