Mobile World Congress is again steeped in 5G hype. 2019, they say, will be the year of 5G. By all accounts, we’re moving closer with news of network trials, launches and new (foldable) 5G handsets. The next level network standard has certainly been a long time in the making, but how will it affect the app economy? Danielle Levitas, EVP Global Marketing and Insights at App Annie answers some of the key questions.
Is 2019 the year 5G finally moves from hype to reality?
We can see from the infrastructure put in place for MWC, with Vodafone trialling 5G in the city with 3 5G enabled handsets, that we’re further forward than last year in terms of infrastructure. But we’re still a long way away from embracing 5G as a society.
What will this change and how?
5G’s higher bandwidth and density and lower latency and battery use are what the industry is betting on. 5G will ultimately mark an inflection point in our connected world. The long term impact will be tremendous – allowing billions more devices to become connected – think smart home, smart vehicles, wearables, countless commercial applications…and yes smarter smartphones too.
Network bandwidth and indiscernible latency will allow for rich, real-time bi-directional media and communications, bringing technology like VR and AR into the mainstream and expand VR beyond niche games. VR and AR have incredible potential in the long run as developers apply the technology to immersive gameplay, education, communication and collaboration, travel and hospitality, manufacturing, service and support, and so much more than we can imagine in 2019.
5G will expand the number of endpoints by orders of magnitude as nearly anything and everything can be connected. The impact of nearly instantaneous data will likely be profound for industries and pricing models, including insurance, agriculture, security, and healthcare.
What apps would best benefit from 5G?
Video conferencing will become truly seamless; with on-the-go broadcasting potentially becoming mainstream. Longform video on social will likely see an uptick as it becomes more viable for on-the-go engagement, with IGTV and FB Live. Time spent in the top 5 video streaming apps increased by 130% within the last two years, 2016 – 2018, so 5G will likely further accelerate this.
Not to mention, it will help with gaming – streaming services like Twitch stand to benefit and better, faster connectivity will enable more powerful mobile games — furthering the trend of ‘console quality games’ migrating to mobile.
2018 was the year where it really became obvious that mobile was a sophisticated gaming platform in its own right, offering experiences (e.g., Fortnite and PUBG) that can match consoles. 5G — along with continued improvement in smartphone specs — would help push the boundaries of mobile gaming even further.
Mobile gaming is set to hit 60% market share of consumer spend in 2019 among PC/Mac, console and handheld gaming — mobile’s expansion of console-quality hardcore games along with hyper-casual games will contribute to this growth.
4G welcomed in an age of video conferencing. How do you think 5G will fundamentally impact our day to day behaviours?
It could ultimately impact everything from education to shopping to gaming. With more accessible bandwidth, AR and VR could make its home in the classroom, guiding students through the ages with virtual maps. Instead of learning about the Tudors or the Egyptians from a 2D textbook, pages could virtually come alive and engage students with the ancient world with modern technology.
Given we’ve had time to reflect on predictions around 5G from 2018, how have these evolved in your opinion?
Many of the predictions still hold true, but there’s a tendency in tech to assume new technologies will ramp and be embraced faster than possible or reasonable. New capabilities take time to integrate into national as well as global infrastructures.
That said, this certainly isn’t an early-adopter gimmick. Mobile’s expansion is prolific, impacting every business in every industry by changing consumers’ daily habits through gradual, seemingly small changes to everyday transactions. From the way we consume content to how we bank, shop and date, 2019’s consumers are used to reaching for their mobile as a remote control for life.
2018 was another record breaking year, with 194 billion downloads, an astounding $101 billion in consumer spend globally and the average user now spends up to 3 hours a day in apps. Anything that makes these transactions faster and more seamless is greatly anticipated. The new features of apps made possible through 5G could create new habit-forming behaviours that fundamentally change how we interact with the world around us, particularly through connected devices. It’s hard not to be excited about this.
What benefits are we likely to see in the short term?
5G will inspire the next generation of developers to innovate in ways that invent and transform businesses and the impact consumers will experience will be well beyond our phones. However, it will still take time for users to see the benefits. We’re yet to have a range of 5G-enabled handset available, although they’re in the pipeline, and we’ll undoubtedly learn a lot from Vodafone’s 5G trial in Barcelona.
Danielle Levitas, EVP Global Marketing and Insights at App Annie