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15
Sep
2011

Qualcomm EMEA Summit: “Every light switch should have an IP address”

POSTED BY Global Administrator
As I type this, I am looking out over the shimmering waters of the Bosphorus. A tugboat and pleasure cruiser are making their way down river; there are a few hazy clouds in the sky.

Now that I’ve made you suitably envious, I’ll move on to the main business of the day, which is to report on Qualcomm’s EMEA Summit, held this week at the Ciragon Palace in Istanbul.

The event kicked off with a keynote from Dr Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm. Mobile, said Dr Jacobs, is already the dominant computing platform; it is not the future of computing, but the present. Furthermore, mobile offers a far more personal computing experience:

“Because of the limitations on the way in which computing happened in the past, you had to sit in a particular spot, at a desk, to compute, now do it when we move around: the personal computer was almost misnamed, it wasn’t really personal, it was shared, more task –oriented. Mobile is everywhere, it enhances the experience of the fixed internet; it’s about context, doing things when you have the time to do them…”

Highlighting the issue of the “data tsunami” that the upsurge in mobile broadband connections will produce, Dr Jacobs noted the need to deploy smart networks to shift the data load and manage interference between cells. On a related note, he mentioned Qualcomm’s recent purchase of iSkoot as a means of provide a means to address a critical issue for network operators: the fact that social networking traffic is “chatty”; that is, is composed of small, but numerous packets of data, which all require signalling agents and thus clog up the network. iSkoot essentially aggregates the data generated on the app side and makes the apps more network-friendly.

One of the most interesting aspects of the keynote concerned Qualcomm’s vision of the connected home: one encapsulated later in the day in a phrase uttered by Jacobs’ colleague Craig Barrett, the President of Qualcomm Atheros: “Every light switch should have an IP address”. Qualcomm believes in an “Internet of everything”, where “all devices in the world will be connected: printers, washing machines… There will be thousands of connected devices, a sea of sensors all around us.”

While the concept is hardly new, Qualcomm’s roadmap for the evolutionary process through which this might occur was intriguing. According to Jacobs and Barrett (whose initial presentation segued out of, and back into, that of his CEO), there is a three step process: connectivity; consumption; control. Having (largely) overcome the problem of providing basic connectivity, our homes are now a media consumption, with 10-15 IP addresses per household: the challenge is to move forward from that to one  where Qualcomm takes the mobile device capabilities and drives them, not just into every screen, but every device, in the home, and the mobile phone itself “will sit in the middle of that as a device that’s able to sense whether there are things around us that we might want to get content from. It needs to be seamless and secure, and you have to be able to discover it seamlessly and engage with it.” This, Jacobs stressed, was patently not the case with current Bluetooth data access, which he described as a “painful experience”.

Following on from Jacobs’ keynote, several of his colleagues outlined Qualcomm strategy in core areas, including its chipset roadmap, Snapdragon processors and M2M, together with an overview of its European operations.

Several dozen analysts (and an even greater number of assorted journalists) then went to bed happy.

But not before an excellent dinner had been consumed in a rooftop restaurant.

Overlooking the Bosphorus, of course.