SAN FRANCISCO -- Qualcomm Uplinq 2014 -- The optimistic projections for "Internet of Things" connections have largely been based on the assumption that smartphone sales will -- or already have -- reached saturation, but Qualcomm says we can expect to see at least 8 billion more smartphones sold in the next five years.
The difference between these and the first billions of smartphones is that, in the developed world, they will be "connected to a sea of other devices, and connected not only to the network but to each other," Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) CEO Steve Mollenkopf said on Thursday at the company's annual developers' conference, held away from its home in San Diego for the first time.
"Innovation will occur at the edge of the Internet, where all these things come together," Mollenkopf added. For Qualcomm, the world's leader in chipsets, where the growth comes from doesn’t really matter, as long as its chips are on board. (See AllSeen Attracts More IoT Hopefuls.)
Prior to the show, the company announced its Snapdragon 210 chipset, which brings multimode 3G and 4G with carrier aggregation into lower-tier handsets. Mollenkopf said it's coming out with "a lot of developer kits to take advantage of the technology and use it not just in the phone space, but many others." (See Qualcomm Paves Way for Sub-$100 4G Phones.)
As far as what those other spaces are, the possibilities are endless, according to Qualcomm (and most companies pursuing IoT). During the keynote address Thursday, Qualcomm showed off just a few of the next devices it's connecting, including robots, wearables and cars, which Mollenkopf said consumers are waiting to buy based on what type of modems are in them. (See Watch Out! Qualcomm's Got a Wearable Device.)
The chip giant's job is to deliver 3G and 4G experiences to this range of devices with increasingly lower power. "It's mind-boggling, the amount of compute power we can put at the edge today," Mollenkopf said. "High-end phones are more powerful than supercomputers were in the 80s. We're very excited about it."
That excitement comes as the company still dominates in the smartphone market, despite increasing competition for LTE chips. Qualcomm shipped 748 million chipsets in 2013, has 1,350 Snapdragon devices announced or commercially available, with 525 in design, and announced the 1 billionth Android smartphone based on Snapdragon this year. (See Qualcomm Unveils New LTE-Advanced Chips, Qualcomm Chips Away at Carrier Wi-Fi and Qualcomm Advances WiFi With MIMO.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading