World's biggest computer show reveals China trade war risks

COMPUTEX 2019, the world's biggest computer trade show, opened in Taipei with dazzling 5G, AI & IoT, blockchain, and gaming offerings, but little interest in China.

Computex, following the launch of 4G/LTE, peaked in 2012 with over 140,000 visitors inundating 1,800 exhibitors in 5,400 booths.  The trade show then suffered a six-year decline as customers moved from desktops and laptops, to phablets and high-functioning smartphones.  But 2019 boomed to a recovery high — 1,685 exhibitors in 5,508 booths as China was set to launch the world's first commercial 5G network in 2020.

Although the People's Republic of China does not recognize Taiwan, the island remains the top notebook P.C. production hub for tech giants such as Apple and Hewlett Packard.

That is why Qualcomm opened Computex with the release of its first Snapdragon-powered 5G P.C., made by PRC-owned Lenovo as "the world's first 7nm platform purpose-built for PCs that offers 5G connectivity."  The platform's 5G modem offers download speeds of 2.5 Gbps and a battery that can last for several days on a single charge.

Wireless technology has advanced about every ten years since 1G made cellular communications possible in the 1980s; 2G added mobile text messaging and secure phone calls in the 1990s; 3G launched smartphones in the 2000s, and 4G/LTE provided data speeds required to  stream high-definition video in 2010s.

But unlike the first four evolutionary generations of wireless technology, 5G is revolutionary because it offers 1) ten times faster data transfer speeds that will slash high-definition movie downloads from ten minutes to less than a second, 2) latency reduction that will eliminate glitches in augmented and full immersion reality, and 3) more than tripling the number of connected devices by 2025.

The reason the computing and information technology industries are ecstatic about 5G's incredible jump in speed and connectedness is that the need for more powerful modems and computing essentially obsolesces all existing desktops, laptops, and smartphones.  

The 2019 estimated revenue to support the current 20 billion "Internet of Things" (IoT) connected devices, growing at about 127 connections each second, is $1.7 trillion.

But with China's launch of the first-to-market 5G network in 2020 and 100 percent global low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) coverage by 2022, annual revenues to support 64 billion IoT connected devices in 2025 will spike to about $4 to $11 trillion.

The key to China's IoT dominance has been China's commitment to state-controlled telecommunication giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation.  The two firms now hold 34 percent of the 74,500 key standard essential patents (SEP) for 5G.  That compares to 25 percent for South Korea and just 14 percent for the once dominant U.S.

IoT Analytics identified the biggest IoT projects at the end of 2018 as 367 Smart Cities, 265 industrial settings, and 193 connected building IoT projects.  The United States accounted for 45 percent, and Europe accounted for 35 percent of the projects.  But President Trump's ban and European observance may have effectively barred Chinese 5G telecommunications suppliers from up to 80 percent of the global market.

The Computex 2019 show that runs through Saturday, June 1, added a second Exhibition Hall to showcase what are rumored to be brilliant advances integrating virtual reality (V.R.), augmented reality (A.R.), and extended reality (X.R.) by 100 exhibitors.  Target markets range from infrastructure maintenance to e-sports gaming immersion.

Keynote speakers include AMD president and CEO Lisa Su, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group Gregory M. Bryant, and Microsoft corporate vice president Nick Parker.

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