Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly emerging as a catalyst that will accelerate future innovation in mobile technology, according to a new global report from the GSMA, the mobile industry association and standards body.
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With machine learning and AI beginning to hit the mass market, led by personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, one of the key battlegrounds in AI will be around the voice interface that controls and co-ordinates devices and data across a broad range of applications, said the GSMA.
Given that AI attracted more than $2bn in venture capital funding in 2015 and has been a major focus of industry consolidation this year, the GSMA predicted that an ecosystem of AI-focused companies – comprising giants and startups – would accelerate sectors such as connected cars and smart homes and, by extension, innovation in mobile to support this.
This trend can be seen in Samsung’s 6 October acquisition of Viv Labs, a US-based developer of open AI platforms that gives third-party developers the power to build conversational assistants and integrate natural language-based interfaces into mobile apps; or the launch of Google’s Pixel smartphone, which includes an integrated AI assistant.
The Global Mobile Trends report was produced by the GSMA’s research arm, GSMA Intelligence, and compiled data on mobile subscriber growth trends, mobile internet adoption, devices and industry finances to present a comprehensive view of the megatrends influencing the worldwide mobile ecosystem.
Summing up the report’s findings, GSMA chief strategy officer Hyunmi Yang said: “In this year’s report, we demonstrate evidence of a major shift in mobile to Asia, particularly India, which has now overtaken China to become the industry’s key growth market, and the transition to a smartphone-powered ‘mobile-first’ internet, which is delivering a new generation of internet users.
“The study also underscores the role of AI and the internet of things in ushering a new era of automation.”
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Besides the growth in Asian markets, the inaugural report also noted the dominance of the smartphone form factor in device markets – in many countries, including the UK, smartphones are now the most popular device owned by the average consumer, moving ahead of laptops – and said that as a result of that, mobile broadband over 3G and 4G networks would soon become the most widely used means of accessing the internet.
The GSMA predicted that 60% of the global population would be using smartphones to access the internet by the end of the decade, and fixed internet connections would see only minimal increases in real terms over the same period, stagnating in some markets.