Will 5G need an iconic device to drive consumer adoption?

The other day, when waiting for a train at a bustling station, I used my smartphone to immerse myself in a very interesting panel discussion streamed live by the Washington Post via Facebook. However, this experience was far from enjoyable as I experienced some major interruptions due to high latency. Such troubles made my questions to the panel out of context since they were arriving with a delay. Latency ruined the whole experience, and the questions I posted remained unanswered. Consequently, I lost interest in following the panel.

4G vs 5G

This incident made me wonder what experience I could have had if 5G were already in place. Using communication apps often, I think I would have really benefited from a VR app making me feel as if I were not only listening to the discussion streamed live but also giving me the feeling that I can pose questions as if I were there for real.

As it turns out, I am not the only one thinking that communication apps can benefit greatly from 5G.

A study called Factors for 5G consumer success conducted by Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab suggests that the majority of respondents in 50 countries worldwide think that communication apps will be among the first ones to benefit from the new generation of connectivity. At the same time, consumers also believe that a whole new class of devices is needed to deal with 5G speeds. And they are ready to embrace such a technology. In fact, globally, one-fifth of the respondents said that they will upgrade to a 5G handset as soon as networks are available; while half of the surveyed consumers responded that they are ready to upgrade within one year from the launch.

New devices, services and apps will drive 5G consumer adoption

App analytics company App Annie predicts that the app economy will be worth USD 6.3 trillion by 2021. Games will continue to drive revenue, growing to USD 105 billion by that time, and non-game revenue will triple to over USD 34 billion, with apps for video, music, dating, education, and productivity leading the way.

Two-thirds of consumers globally believe 5G will pave the way for radically new apps and services. Because consumers today are much more aware of the services that could be enriched with 5G rather than the 5G technology per se, these new devices, apps and services will largely drive the consumer success of 5G.

From incremental changes to completely new services and applications

Although faster connection is the main consumer expectation – 60 percent anticipate 5G to be faster than current networks –connection speed is not the only expectation from the new generation of connectivity.

The top four service areas that consumers expect to benefit from 5G are: social and communication apps, home security and automation, VR-based shopping and self-driving cars. The graphic below presents the share of consumers that believe that each of the applications will benefit from 5G. The area of a given rectangle reflects the relative size of the group of people that agree with the statement that 5G will benefit a particular service.

Figure 1

Perhaps, in the future, communication apps will offer to consumers Star Wars-like hologram calls and 3D live VR enabled by 360-degree UHD cameras on their devices. Personally I hope to have something like this in a just a few years. But this poses a big question about what features and capabilities will be included into future 5G devices? And what will those devices look like?

In other words, will 5G need an iconic device to drive adoption?

Like this post? Check out the full Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab Factors for 5G consumer success report, and watch our new video on 5G open for business.

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