The Race to the Next Platform in APAC: Ambient Computing

From smart cities to connected homes to connected cars, across APAC, statistics reflect promising returns for tech companies and a range of industries already making a beeline for the region.

IHS predicts there will be at least 88 smart cities worldwide by 2025, and APAC will account for 32 of them or more than 30% share. According to forecast, the APAC smart home market will grow to USD26 billion in 2022 and surge to USD115 billion by 2030, accounting for more than 30% of global share.

The global connected car market is estimated to reach USD96 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 20.1% in the period 2016–2022, with the APAC region recording a CAGR of 25% or more during the same period. And with 5G being a precursor to creating greater demand for internet of things (IoT) services, industry reports are also projecting adoption in APAC to reach 1.14 billion subscribers by 2024, accounting for 65% of global 5G subscriptions.


 

In this decade, we could certainly expect the world that we live in to be more predictive and personalized, as well as more pre-emptive to our needs, with a wide range of products and services being integrated into key interfaces and delivered to consumers as experiences powered by ambient computing.

After the home, the car is seen as the next ambient computing environment to champion. In China, Alibaba has extended its Tmall Genie into this space with a new in-car smart speaker partnership with automakers Audi, Honda and Renault, that will soon be available to Chinese drivers.

Samsung is South Korea’s largest consumer electronics and technology giant, and remains number one in the smartphone space, accounting for 23% of the global market. In contrast to Apple’s strategy in the peak of the smartphone age that is internally driven, selling iPhone users other devices like iPads, AirPods and Apple Watches as well as getting them to subscribe to content services, Samsung’s approach for success will focus on the continued development and growth of the mobile market.

Thanks also to their robust portfolio of consumer electronics products including TVs and home appliances, their investment in voice tech and their leadership in 5G connectivity, Samsung is well-positioned to deliver an IoT ecosystem, making all of their products IoT ready within the next year or so.


 

The plan is to also unite all of its IoT applications into SmartThings, Samsung’s primary app that lets users connect and control any SmartThings-enabled device directly from their phone, TV or car. Additionally, an integral part of Samsung’s vision is to not only connect their devices but to make them intelligent too through the application of Bixby, their voice technology system. For instance, Samsung Smart TVs and Family Hub Refrigerators will have voice control via Bixby to make everyday tasks easier. With devices and services working together and infused with intelligence, in-home activities become more intuitive and attuned to consumers’ lifestyles.

After the home, the car is seen as the next ambient computing environment to champion. In China, Alibaba has extended its Tmall Genie into this space with a new in-car smart speaker partnership with automakers Audi, Honda and Renault, that will soon be available to Chinese drivers. In a similar fashion, Japanese automaker Toyota and mobile app platform LINE Corp, have struck a partnership to offer an AI platform featuring voice commands for navigation services in Toyota cars in Japan using LINE’s Clova Auto system. Through voice commands inside cars, users can also turn off their lights at home, check the weather at their destination, send and receive messages, and make calls via the LINE app.

In the next couple of years, the retail industry too will be more extensively empowered by AI, as the adoption rate by the industry is estimated at 54%, surpassing that of the banking, manufacturing and healthcare sectors.

For voice assistant providers, the car is a major opportunity because it is a setting where touch-based devices such as smartphones are not optimal. AI-enabled voice technology, which enables devices to hear and respond, was pioneered for the home, and the car is the logical extension of that experience as it is often the first environment consumers enter when leaving home and the last environment they experience before returning. Similar to the home, it is also centered around the consumer and controlled by the consumer, and therefore viewed by many as comparable in importance to the smartphone.

In the next couple of years, the retail industry too will be more extensively empowered by AI, as the adoption rate by the industry is estimated at 54%, surpassing that of the banking, manufacturing and healthcare sectors. Unsurprisingly, China would be the top country, thanks to is massive investment, presence of large tech firms such as Tencent and Alibaba, supportive government policies and a huge amount of data based on its large population.

Already in Alibaba’s Hema, facial recognition payment, app-enabled self-checkout, digitalized inventories and order fulfillment, are part of the supermarket chain’s core infrastructure. Alibaba’s main ecommerce competitor, JD.com, has also since launched 7Fresh, their grocery store that is underpinned by the new retail concept. For instance, the store utilizes the “magic mirror” technology to showcase product information when a customer picks it up and also has facial recognition payment systems.

Today, companies like Samsung, Alibaba and JD, are not just a consumer electronics company or an online commerce company, they have become a community of products, services and consumers, interacting with one another and the environment comprising the online platform, our mobile devices and the larger offline physical elements, all coordinated in a data-driven and networked manner. To capitalize on these rapidly evolving ecosystems, marketers need to gain an inherent understanding of consumers through the lens of data as well as the technology that powers them.


This is the first of a five-part series written by Sharon Soh, Head Of Strategy APAC at IPG Mediabrand’s UM, that delves into how platform development will shape the way brands connect with consumers across Asia over the next decade.


The Race to the Next Platform in APAC:

Part One: The Super App
Part Two: Democratized Creativity
Part Three: Ambient Computing
Part Four: Algorithmic Culture
Part Five: The Age of Anxiety

Sharon Soh

Sharon Soh

Sharon is the Head Of Strategy APAC at UM and a contributor to Branding in Asia Magazine

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