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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 10, 2012 at 9:08 AM

CES 2012: Qualcomm on world going mobile, Windows 8

LAS VEGAS — The grand CES keynote is not dead, despite the impressions left by Microsoft’s show-opening presentation Monday night.

Qualcomm Chief Executive Paul Jacobs took the traditional route Tuesday morning with a glitzy performance that opened with Vegas dance acts, including one launched when CES host Gary Shapiro pressed a button on a tablet device. It concluded with gee-whiz demos, including a prototype Windows 8 tablet.

Jacobs said his company is “proud to be here and part of this important event,” then delivered a relatively inspiring speech on how mobile devices are improving lives globally, particularly for people in the developing world.

“When they use mobile they become citizens of a larger world, a much richer world,” he said.

San Diego-based Qualcomm, a larger wireless semiconductor company, has shipped more than 7 billion chipsets, Jacobs said. Last year the company spent about $3 billion on research and development, enabling partners “to build a steady flow of exciting devices, apps and services,” he said.

Jacobs shared some eye-popping stats about mobile usage. He said there are now more than 6 billion cellular connections globally, including 1.5 billion with 3G mobile broadband.

He said 1.2 billion people access news on mobile devices, more than all cable subscribers and (gulp) three times the circulation of all newspapers.

Total wireless industry revenues reached $1.3 trillion last year, “which is almost 2 percent of global GDP.”

He said most people look at their phones about 150 times a day, or once every 6.5 minutes every waking hour. Jacobs acknowledged that a number of people in the audience had no doubt checked their phones since he started talking.

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“Keep playing with them because unlike most speakers I am good with that, keep going,” he said.

Jacobs talked about the company’s philanthropic ventures before touting its Snapdragon processors and their gaming capabilities. Then he bought out mixed martial arts fighter Alistair Overeem, who will be demonstrating games running on Qualcomm hardware on the show floor.

In 2015 approximately half of all phones will ship into emerging markets that are more price sensitive, Jacobs said. That’s pushing hardware companies to develop more sub-$150 handsets.

Jacobs noted that all Windows Phones so far use Qualcomm hardware, and then he brought Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop onto the stage to talk about his company’s work on devices for developed and developing markets.

Then Jacobs talked up the company’s new S4 processor being released this year for smart TVs, ultracompact notebooks and other devices.

Jacobs made a strong pitch for Windows 8 systems running Qualcomm hardware.

S4 processors will also be used in Windows 8 PCs, which are “a really exciting opportunity for S4 to flex its muscles,” Jacobs said, then talked up the systems’ ability to start instantly and remain connected while preserving battery life.

“Your next PC will deliver an always-on, always-connected promise and that is something we in the mobile industry know a lot about,” he said.

Then Jacobs gave the first public demo of a fanless, S4-based tablet running Windows 8 and connected to AT&T’s LTE network.

Qualcomm kept going. Jacobs next brought out Lenovo executive Liu Jun to demonstrate Lenovo’s new Snapdragon-based smart TVs that will be sold in China. It has a dual-core 1.5 gigahertz processor and runs the Android operating system.

The gee-whiz demos continued with Sesame Workshop Chief Executive Mel Ming, who brought Grover to demonstrate Qualcomm’s Vuforia platform. A tablet was used to take images of toys, which then became animated 3-D playsets in a game running on the device.

Dr. Eric Topol of Scripps Health demonstrated healthcare applications, including a smartphone cover that’s used capture cardiograms by gripping the device, a product that Topol said he used on a plane to diagnose a passenger’s heart attack and call for an emergency landing. Topol also showed how a glucose sensor under the skin works with a smartphone app to display real-time glucose levels and chart them through the day.

Jacobs concluded by announcing Qualcomm’s support of a new X Prize competition offering $10 million to inventors who can create the equivalent of the Tricorder diagnostic device from the TV show “Star Trek.” The device needs to be able to allow people to diagnose their health without connecting with a doctor or hospital, and be fun and easy to use.

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