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Huawei’s plans to collaborate with various partners in the fields of chips, IoT platforms, Big Data, and application ecosystems will help industry as a whole become smart.
Whether it’s shared space, books or bikes, the sharing economy is built upon the concept of ‘use it when you need it.’ Launched in June 2015 and headquartered in Beijing, ofo (www.ofo.so) leads the bike sharing market with downloads, users, user growth, bicycles, daily orders, average daily bike usage, and other indexes. ofo’s trademark yellow bikes represent the world’s largest and most valuable bike-sharing platform. ofo connects more than 6.5 million bicycles worldwide, and has provided over 2 billion rides to more than 100 million subscribers in over 150 cities. With footprints in the U.S., Britain, Singapore, Kazakhstan, and Thailand. It’s also China’s first global online company.
The popularity of bike sharing has led to rising expectations: Users want a bike exactly when and where they need one. And they want to pedal away quickly. With many bike sharing companies, users are becoming frustrated at how easily the bikes can be damaged, and the difficulties in unlocking the bikes and making payments.
A second issue is unsustainable business models, as companies that go for maximum user numbers soon lose their competitiveness. However, market segmentation based on analytics can focus on and retain high-value users. For shared bike enterprises, two approaches can revitalize a jaded business model:
ofo has consistently optimized its operations and marketing to become the world’s largest shared bicycle platform with the highest market share. But a range of challenges still remain, including inefficient equipment management, failure to balance communications and power dissipation, and low density of data collection sites.
In response, ofo explored innovative technologies and began working with ecosystem partners. In July 2017, ofo partnered with China Telecom and Huawei to develop and deploy NB-IoT and smart IoT locks on ofo’s bikes — a world first both in term of products and the application of NB-IoT in a commercial mobile scenario.
Ofo’s top priority was to introduce and popularize smart locks to improve user experience and enable value-added services. Competing electronic smart lock technologies invariably had at least one glaring defect, such as network compatibility, battery life, or communication costs.
ofo developed an IoT smart lock based on NB-IoT technology that lowers power consumption, enables wide coverage, and slashes system resource delays at low cost. NB-IoT lets ofo ensure it has bikes located at key locations when commuter demand is highest. Meanwhile, bikes can be unlocked in less than a second. Both improvements have greatly boosted user satisfaction.
ofo and its partners added key technologies to ofo’s own platform. These included the commercial network provided by China Telecom, and Huawei’s intelligent chip-based NB-IoT solution. When launching its NB-IoT solution earlier this year, ofo founder and CEO Dai Wei said that the cooperation between ofo, Huawei, and China Telecom is a “mutually beneficial joint force of three global leading enterprises.”
At the core is Huawei’s IoT solution, which includes smart chips, networking, and an IoT platform. The solution provides strong coverage in poor-signal areas and a network capacity that’s more than one hundred times stronger than standard terminals. The payment process has dropped from 25 seconds to less than 5, while battery life has been lengthened from 1 or 2 months to more than 2 years, saving costs and reducing the need for frequent maintenance.
ofo already is reaping the rewards of an improved user experience, especially for commuters who use the bikes to ride from subway stations to work.
ofo’s cooperation with Huawei on NB-IoT smart locks bodes well for improving the industry as whole. Huawei’s technology optimizes lifecycle management for locks, while the sensors on the locks collect information such as equipment status, user data, and operating data. They connect the front- and back-end industrial chains to achieve intelligent business management, enable the bikes to be located in hot spots, facilitate rapid maintenance, and boost marketing and value-added services.
This kind of mutually beneficial partnership is the best guarantee for innovation and progress throughout all industries. According to Huawei’s Deputy Director of Telecoms Systems, Zhang Xiuzheng, Huawei’s plans to collaborate with various partners “in the fields of chips, IoT platforms, Big Data, and application ecosystems” will help industry as a whole become ‘smart.’