Qualcomm highlights mobile's cardinal role

16 Sep 2011

There was something ironic about Qualcomm holding its annual developer conference in Istanbul – a city that appears crippled by appalling traffic.

One minute we’re discussing super high-speed networks and the applications they enable, the next we’re stuck in the mother of all traffic jams that appeared to engulf the entire city.

The traffic mattered little when the nitty gritty started, and chief Paul Jacobs outlined the firm’s current efforts to drive mobility into the healthcare and education sectors. He noted that four out of five mobile connections are now in emerging markets, and stated that the entire industry is likely to generate 2% of the world’s GDP in 2011.

“Mobile has become a force for good,” he said, pointing to the use of wireless tech in the Arab Spring revolutions. He also believes smartphones are far more personal than a PC ever could be, and that the devices are now the dominant computing platform thanks to the incorporation of GHz-level dual-core processors, and a future move to quad-core chips.

“In many emerging markets, the [mobile] phone will be the only computing device,” Jacobs says.

For handset makers, the comparison to straight computers presents some challenges. Jacobs notes that handsets “must match the experience of TV [and] games consoles,” and that people “expect an amazing experience.” However, it is also getting easier for consumers to own a smartphone capable of delivering that experience, with Jacobs stating the market is being driven by sub-$300 devices currently, and that sub-$100 units are now feasible.

Networks, too, are getting smarter, with efforts to develop dynamic networks that can react to specific levels of loading. Wi-Fi is also becoming a key element in delivering ubiquitous access, rather than the disruptive influence many predicted.

What does all that mean in reality? Qualcomm answered with a demonstration area where it showed 3DTV powered from a handset running its Snapdragon processor, a range of mobile health devices, details of its AllJoyn initiative, and maps combining GPS with GLONASS signals.

The ‘network’ problems encountered getting around Istanbul were definitely worth enduring, but now it’s time to get this stuff out of the demo room and into our hands.

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