LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2013 - An intellectual property licensing company that designs the chipsets for mobile devices -- and barely offer a consumer-facing brand -- took center stage here at the opening keynote of the Consumer Electronics Show tonight.
Paul Jacobs, Chairman and CEO of the San Diego based Qualcomm, opened up the premiere information technology conference with the theme, "Born Mobile."
"This is the first time a mobile company has opened up the Consumer Electronics Show," Jacobs said, adding that, "Qualcomm is not a traditional consumer electronics company: we don't make televisions, stereos or game consoles, [but] we are at the heart of a number of devices that are at the center of everything you do."
With a total of 6.4 billion mobile connections, there are almost as many mobile devices now as there are people on earth.
And with nearly one million new smart phone users every day, nearly three times the 317,000 babies that are born each day, it is a near-certainty that soon there will be more internet devices on the globe than there are people.
More than simply sheer numbers, the power of mobile computing is integration of computing power, broadband connectivity and human ingenuity in new and unique settings, he said. Rather than an operating system powering the digital revolution, it is as if mobile computing is the new platform for technological innovation.
From artists who use global positioning systems to rapidly accelerate the speed of creating sculptors, to companies offering aid to lost dogs outfitted with radio transmitters, to opportunities for parents to stay in touch with children thousands of miles away, Jacobs extolled the way the mobile device is "redefining the way we live." According to a survey, 84 percent of people said they couldn't go a day without their mobile device, he said.
In a surprise cameo, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer came onstage to extoll the power of Snapdragon, the Qualcomm chipset powering mobile devices running Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. Introduced last year, Windows 8 is a first for Microsoft in that it is an operating system designed to work on handheld devices and tablets as well as it does on personal computers.
Windows 8 on Qualcomm's Snapdragon combines "the world of the tablet and the PC; touch and keyboard; computing and mobile," said Ballmer.
Devices and applications running on the chipset and operating systems, added Jacobs, "are super-fast and fluid, and connecting a growing world of applications."
Not unnoticed was the fact that it was Ballmer appearing during Jacobs' keynote. For about a decade, the pre-keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show seemed continually occupied the Microsoft CEO: first Bill Gates, the now-retired Microsoft founder and now-philanthropist, and then by Ballmer, the software company's current chief.
Jacobs hour-and-a-half keynote had something for everyone. It featured a winning Nascar driver, a film director, Big Bird and companions from the Sesame Street Workshop, a star of the upcoming film Star Trek: Into Darkness, the South African Rev. Desmond Tutu extolling mobile health applications, and prototype of a wirelessly-charged electric-battery powered Rolls Royce.
Underlying almost all aspects of the speech was the them that wireless bandwidth usage is exploding. Whether because of the growing number of wireless users, the amount of bandwidth being consumed by those users, or because of a trend toward machine to machine technology, consumer demand for wireless bandwidth seems insatiable.
"Keeping up with this exploding demand may seem possible," said Jacobs. "At Qualcomm, we call this the 1,000x challenge."
But the challenge can be managed, he said, through more intelligent use of wireless spectrum, through better and more efficient chip-sets, through smaller and smaller cells, and through miniature cell phone towers "as small as a packet of cards and cheaper than a cell phone."
Follow Broadband Breakfast’s coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show at http://twitter.com/broadbandcensus. Our goals for CES are to promote the upcoming series of Broadband Breakfast Club events; to get the latest information on how broadband is driving digital technologies in 2013; and to test ideas for a book on technology, broadband, and digital media that Broadband Breakfast’s Publisher Drew Clark plan to write in 2013. He is on Google+ and Twitter.