Jacobs: Wireless, CE To Converge


LAS VEGAS - If you had any lingering doubts this is wireless world, Qualcomm's Dr. Paul Jacobs would remove them.


During a wide-ranging keynote at the Hilton Center here, the animated chairman/CEO recounted some history of wireless communications, as well as Qualcomm's role as the developer of the 3G and CDMA technology; introduced many corporate partners; gave his vision of the future of CE; and topped it off â€” Oprah-style â€” by giving away 300 FLO TVs to the cheering audience.

"Qualcomm is not a household name. Many people think we run a stadium," Jacobs said to laughs from the audience as he kicked off his remarks. He predicted "convergence of wireless with consumer electronics would happen in a big, big way" as many CE devices would soon have cell phone capabilities inside them.

Dr. Jacobs peppered his talk with some blockbuster comments, such as the fact there are 900 million 3G subscribers out of 4 billion current cellphone owners. He even pulled out one of the first smartphones - the Palm PDQ - powered by a Qualcomm chip and stated that the 16MHz phone handled 2.7 millions instruction per second (MIPS), compared with the company's latest Snapdragon processor rated 1GHz and 2 billion MIPS.

A small parade of Qualcomm partners followed who discussed a variety of ways to "unleash the power of wireless." These included:

* Peter Chou, HTC CEO, who joked about using the PDQ as a weapon since it was so big and heavy. He unveiled the new HTC Smart, a more affordable and easier-to-use smartphone using Qualcomm's Brew Mobile Platform.

* Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang introduced the Skylight, one of the first smartbooks using the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. Dr. Jacobs proceeded to tweet his fans with the netbook on steroids.

* Todd Bradley, HP executive VP, personal systems group, showed a netbook prototype using the Android operating system and the Snapdragon processor.

* Tony Tsao, D-Link CEO, demonstrated a wireless LAN that beamed a variety of high-def signals to multiple displays - using Qualcomm technology, of course. It's due in the second quarter.

Perhaps the most fascinating demonstration was made in conjunction with Dr. Eric Topol, chief medical officer of the West Wireless Health Institute.  Here the good doctor showed a number of products that could radically transform health care, including a personal sleep coach, sensors that deliver real-time reports of heart patients' vital signs so doctors could monitor them over the phone, hopefully keeping them out of the hospital. The real crowd pleaser was a handheld ultrasound device that showed the doctor's beating heart.

Along with these demos and product introductions, Jacobs showed a working e-reader using his company's Mirasol technology that changes the traditional monochrome display to full color and also plays video. He said products using this would appear at the end of 2010.

He also touted Audiovox's new FLO TV mobile television introductions, another Qualcomm invention. (See the TWICE CES Daily, Jan. 8, p. 4, for more details.) Jacobs also discussed Wireless Reach, a philanthropic push to use 3G technology to help the underserved and underprivileged. There are 37 projects underway in 22 countries helping to close the digital divide.

Finally, CBS-TV sportscaster James Brown joined Jacobs on stage to tout the appeal of FLO TV to sports fans. Jacobs said FLO TV would "double down on sports" offering 1,200 live events and 3,000 hours of a variety of sports to its subscribers. Then it was Oprah time, and 300 audience members walked away happy.


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