Smartphone OEMs Set to Play Crucial Role in Bringing AI to the Masses

  • Smartphones are the perfect platform for making AI accessible to everyone. Their hardware and software capabilities are constantly improving, making them ideal for running AI models.
  • Generative AI is revolutionizing smartphones. It offers personalized experiences, enhances existing features, and allows for more intuitive interactions.
  • Smartphone OEMs have the most potential in democratizing AI. OPPO has committed to making generative AI features available for about 50 million OPPO smartphone users worldwide this year.

Lately, new AI technologies and AI-related products are sprouting up almost every day. The latest generative AI models can view and understand the real world in real time, enabling humans to interact with machines based on the information captured by AI. Almost all companies are using smartphones in their demos instead of devices like augmented reality glasses, AI pin, or other fancy mobile gadgets. Smartphones have become a necessity as nearly 5 billion people around the world rely on them daily. Although these devices have been around for many years, they still have great potential yet to be unlocked and could play a crucial part in driving AI popularization.

Smartphones are the perfect carriers for AI functionalities due to their comprehensive input and output capacities and their ever-increasing hardware capabilities, particularly in AI computing power. As a result, smartphones have a crucial role to play in making AI technology accessible to all and smartphone OEMs will be key drivers in this process.

Counterpoint Research
Source: Counterpoint Research

Smartphone OEMs have the most potential in democratizing AI

The advent and rapid rise of generative AI has sparked great consumer interest in AI. The technology is quite impressive as it can analyze and memorize user habits to provide personalized services, making the user experience more unique and efficient. It also enhances voice assistants, camera and display functions, and battery and connectivity management, boosting smartphone performance and user satisfaction.

In an environment where AI has many functionalities and AI model suppliers are in plenty, developers face a lot of challenges in building and integrating AI features into existing operating systems (OS), which connect hardware and software capabilities with user scenarios. This is where smartphone OEMs could be helpful, as they can bridge this implementation gap to ensure seamless AI operations.

Smartphone OEMs have deep experience in understanding user demand and integrating solutions into the OS. They collaborate closely with chip vendors to fine-tune large language models (LLMs) for the smartphone environment.

Additionally, OEMs work with leading global AI companies. For example, OPPO has been working with both Google and Microsoft to bring leading AI technology to users.

OEMs have invested substantial resources to develop their own large AI models at various scales from hundreds of millions to billions of parameters. Based on these developments, smartphone OEMs are at the forefront of promoting the device+cloud hybrid AI deployment mode. This hybrid mode could also accelerate the proliferation of AI technology from flagship-exclusive to the mass market.

Generative AI Smartphones: Expanding Beyond Flagships

Counterpoint believes that 2024 will be the inaugural year for generative AI smartphones. In H2 2024, more applications and features powered by generative AI models are expected to appear on devices and in the cloud. Meanwhile, more smartphone models will have AI models deployed locally or access AI models in the cloud.

According to Counterpoint’s forecast, by 2027, generative AI smartphones will account for more than 40% of the global smartphone shipments, and the installed base will exceed 1 billion units.

Counterpoint Research
Source: Counterpoint Research Smartphone 360 Service, GenAI Smartphone Shipments and Insights Report
Note: The forecast generative AI smartphone refers to smartphones that can run multimodal AI models.

To achieve such growth, generative AI features have to be accessible to market segments beyond flagships. And consumers also need to be convinced that smartphones with AI capabilities can truly change their lives. Figuring out such use cases or the killer application is the key.

In the process of finding the right use cases, feedback from customers is essential to help OEMs calibrate their strategies. Hence, the more that customers have access to generative AI features, the more feedback can be gathered, allowing OEMs to improve their applications and operating systems to better cater to users’ demands compared to the previous generation.

OEMs must take the first step and make AI features accessible to more smartphone users to kick off the process. Only after users truly experience the power of generative AI will they consider replacing their current smartphones for ones with better AI capabilities.

Some OEMs are actively introducing generative AI features to the mass market by fully utilizing cloud-based AI capacities. OPPO is bringing generative AI to all of its product lines in 2024. By the end of the year, OPPO expects about 50 million OPPO AI phones to be in the hands of users globally.

AI technology is poised to substantially change the world and revolutionize people’s lives, workplaces and interactions with others. Smartphones are the perfect vehicles to drive the popularization of AI, and we expect smartphone OEMs to find ways to better integrate the latest generative AI technology with their devices, promoting sustainable growth of the industry.

* This Blog was sponsored by OPPO


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Counterpoint research is a young and fast growing research firm covering analysis of the tech industry. Coverage areas are connected devices, digital consumer goods, software & applications and other adjacent topics. We provide syndicated research reports as well as tailored. Our seminars and workshops for companies and institutions are popular and available on demand. Consulting and customized work on the above topics is provided for high precision projects.

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