Huawei, the Chinese telecoms group, has launched an operating system designed to work exclusively with internet connected objects — from cars to watches to toothbrushes — which it predicts will number more than 100bn by 2025.
William Xu, Huawei’s global head of strategy and marketing, said the company’s “Lite OS” was part of the group’s strategy to take advantage of the “internet of things”, the smart gadgets designed to connect to each other and share information about their use.
Even the humble electric toothbrush, he said, could one day “record how often and how effectively you brush your teeth, and could tell you when to do it and how to do it better”.
Mr Xu added that Huawei did not plan to join the race to make any of the dizzying array of connected devices being planned by smartphone competitors, such as smart air purifiers or smart cars.
Instead, Huawei is offering device suppliers its open source technology to connect their gadgets to the internet. “We want to provide the connections, not the devices,” he said.
An analyst who covers the company said that Huawei’s strategy was a defensive one: “Building a platform is safer when you don’t know what to build.”
Some internet experts have said that the market for connected gadgets is the next frontier in mobile communications, as the global use of smartphones becomes more widespread.
Huawei on Wednesday presented its vision for the next decade, which included the group’s internet of things strategy — where its telecoms infrastructure accounted for a large share of the projected 100bn internet connections.
CK Lu, a smartphone industry analyst at Gartner, said the strategy to be a “platform provider” to smart device makers would help it tap “the massive business potential of expanding its consumer and network business to the internet of things”.
However, Mr Xu stressed that the Lite OS was not designed to compete with more complex smartphone operating systems such as Android or Apple’s IOS. “It is only an internet of things operating system,” he said.
The company predicted that 22 per cent of the estimated 100bn “smart” connections by 2025 would be lifestyle gadgets such as watches and phones, with a further 18 per cent smart home gadgets such as vacuum cleaners and televisions. The rest would be mainly business and manufacturing related, utilities, cars, and “smart city” gadgets, Huawei predicted.
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