Tech in bubble wrap

The recent Samsung Unpacked event, where the smartphone giant launched two high-end devices, is indicative of an industry that believes the only way to add value is to launch new things. And hopefully someone buys these things.

Computer Weekly recently had a go at carmakers for trying to copy the software industry’s SaaS model, and not really getting it right. But one thing is clear: unlike mobile device manufacturers, some carmakers, particularly those making electric vehicles, really understand the value of the hardware and software platform. And these can be kept separate.

No one, apart from those commercial organisations operating large fleets of vehicles, needs a new EV every year. And even in the largest of commercial vehicle fleets, the priority is on maximising the useful life of existing inventory.

Software updates provide EV owners with useful functionality. And some of these software packages are chargeable, meaning customers can pay fo an update to immediately unlock improvements on their existing vehicle hardware.

The smartphone is a hardware platform. Manufacturers need to recognise that the true value of this platform is in its software, and how this can improve the value of the base hardware over time.

Bandwidth lunacy

Network bandwidth is another area of the IT sector that is hell-bent on selling businesses and consumers more. The headline figures for 5G is the bandwidth but has anyone actually considered whether the average consumer or business user really needs it. In fact, according to analyst Gartner, besides specialist use cases, the majority of enterprise software only needs about 6 Mbps, and that includes those bandwidth hungry apps like video conferencing and live streaming.

Smartphones simply the memory to process data that can be consumed at 5G’s 1 Gbps data rate. But this hasn’t stopped YouTube from supporting 8K video, and companies like Samsung releasing 8K TVs. What is the point? Maybe it is just to help us use up the bandwidth we don’t really need…

According to Gartner’s Bill Ray, 5G is failing to deliver, not because it cannot achieve headline grabbing bandwidth, but because there are bits in the 5G specification that have yet to be implemented. What Ray really wants to see from mobile operators is guaranteed, highly stable bandwidth. It is in the 5G spec, but years away from being a reality.

The industry has moved on. Are those people in product development living in a bubble?

Given that if they are not struggling yet, everyone and every business is going to be impacted by inflation and the rising costs of raw materials, energy and everyday items. The answer for the tech sector is not to go back to loyal customers and sell slightly better versions of things they already have. It’s about helping to fix real-world problems cost-effectively.

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