[Uplinq] Dr. Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm’s CEO, has introduced mobile computing as a “force of social change”, as he referred to the recent events in the middle east during which people “armed only with mobile phones” could document facts on the ground and share them with the world, instantly.
And that’s only the beginning. Qualcomm estimates that data usage will grow by up to 12X by 2015. The future will be dominated by both HSPA+ and LTE networks it seems. Both networks are powered by Qualcomm technologies.
Yet, Qualcomm reminds the Uplinq attendees that feature phones (“non smartphones”) will still represent 500M units in 2015. Although they are not sexy, this segment still represents a huge opportunity in the industry. Paul Jacobs calls developers to cease their “moment” and build apps that can reach “hundreds of millions”.
CAA, Creative Artists Agency: CAA has announced the creation (with Qualcomm) of a “creative mobile lab”. The goal of this new entity is to create much better entertainment applications and will cover video games, music and movies. CML calls developers to join its rank – although the incentive for developers wasn’t really clear during the keynote.
Qualcomm strengths: Paul Jacobs did not miss the opportunity to remind the audience of the strengths of Qualcomm: breadth of OS and hardware solutions, high integration, and tight control of hardware and software and developer tools.
SnapDragon: Qualcomm realizes that performance is critical to both its developers and customers. Paul Jacobs referred a few times to “multi-core” competitors, which is basically NVIDIA and TI, for shipping products. He emphasizes that SnapDragon chips do better on a performance-per-watt basis, although he didn’t say against which competitor, or if it was against all of them. This is typically something that end-users need to look at one a case-by-case basis by reading reviews. There are cases where the competition does very well, and others where Qualcomm has an advantage.
Sony Ericsson came on stage to talk about its smartphones (powered by SnapDragon). They reminded the audience of their “feature phones” past, and their (difficult) evolution into the smartphone market. Sony Ericsson’s ARC is probably their best product – but Sony Ericsson has launched 4 smartphones recently. The future is unsurprising: more products are coming online. Sony Ericsson concludes with its XPERIA “game phone”. The “time has finally come” (for gaming phones) says Sony Ericsson. “There is no compromise”. It maybe so, but we will have to see how the market responds to the XPERIA Play. That said, it’s fair to recognize that at least, Sony Ericsson has tried to create something new with the XPERIA Play.
Adreno GPU: Paul Jacobs was very keen to remind the audience about their Adreno graphics processor (GPU) performance. I take it as a direct reference to the “NVIDIA threat”, and to be fair, even NVIDIA fans have to recognize that Adreno does a very good job, although they will be quick to point out that Tegra 3 is just around the corner. There is no doubt that both companies will compete for some time in that arena.
3D content: of course, there’s no escaping from the 3D push of the entire industry. We’ve been shown games, demos and movies that show stereo 3D in all its glory. Yet, this is something that end-users mostly don’t “desire” yet. The glasses-less devices might change this, but the overall opinion of most people that we talk to is: I don’t want to wear glasses.
Web/HTML5: on-stage, Qualcomm was talking about its web performance and claims that it loads pages 21% faster and handles HTML4 faster than competing platforms. Qualcomm also said that it is leading the JSGame benchmark (from Facebook) by 2X, but didn’t mention against which competitor. Of course, polygonal 3D also works in web apps, with WebGL.
Peer to Peer /AllJoyn: pronounced “all join”, AllJoyn is a peer-to-peer API that can use any underlying network protocol like WIFI, Bluetooth and others. To the developer, AllJoyn simply hides the technicalities of low-level protocols and allows them to focus on game content. Think of it as a “DirectX” for peer-to-peer.
Augmented Reality: Qualcomm’s Augmented Reality (AR) software development kit (SDK) is coming to iOS – for free. Qualcomm has been a big believer of AR for a long time. There was a nice demo in which upon looking at DVD boxes thought a smartphone camera, the movie trailer would be played on the box via AR. The main challenge of AR, in my personal opinion, is the lack of an efficient (real-time) visual recognition engine, along with a complete database that should power it. This is going to be a multi-year (or decade) effort. When it works, AR can be refined and improved for years to come, and it will need a steady supply of processing power – this is a big stake for Qualcomm and others.
Dreamworks was talking about how “AR” was going to simplify DVD pre-sales, but what they were showing was really a QR-code (2D barcode)… I don’t see how it related to AR, and frankly Asian countries had that a decade ago. Another “AR” application was the ability to take pictures on top of which the movie characters were added. Again, not really “AR-ish” for me.
Qualcomm presents AR as “our digital 6th sense”, and Paul Jacobs himself says that AR will be our primary means to interact with our environment. If you project yourself far enough in the future, it may be so, but this is not a near-future (5 years) thing – I really hope I’m wrong. Qualcomm dream about a future with more “sensors” and more network activity. “We will be linked to everything around us” they say.
Attendees take: Uplinq attendees were asked to vote about which field has the largest opportunity, and the winner is “healthcare”.
Wrap-up: to conlude, Paul Jacobs reminds developers in the room that Qualcomm is there to help them with tools, SDKs, APIs etc… and that this is a “new era” for computing. He also reminds them that everyone wins when customers are happy. “We’ve got your back” he says.
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