The Best Is Yet To Come

I spent most of today at the Innovation Qualcomm event at the Science Museum in London. Although Qualcomm is purely b2b, its chips and software power many smartphones from the likes of HTC, Sony Ericsson and others, and Qualcomm likes to take an ‘Intel Inside’ approach to its marketing, explaining how the power and sophistication of its solutions play a big part in enabling device manufacturers to come up with the goods in the shape of their desirable devices.

Today, CEO and chairman Paul Jacobs was stat-happy, trotting out a bunch of numbers to show the company’s commitment to innovation, and the growth of the smartphone market.

The first stat was $14.5bn (£9.4bn). That’s the total amount the firm has spent on R&D since it was founded in 1985. Roughly 20 per cent of the firm’s revenues are spent on R&D, an impressively high ratio in my experience.

The next stat was 5bn. That’s the number of wireless subscriptions on the planet, or a few more actually, as Jacobs pointed out. “The wireless industry and cellular networks are humanity’s biggest platform,” he said. “People talk about ‘think global, act local’, but I tell our people: ‘you can think globally and act globally’”.
The stats kept coming. There will be 2.8bn 3G subscriptions by 2014. The number of 3G subscriptions will exceed GSM subscriptions by 2012. 70 per cent of all subscriptions in Western Europe will be 3G by 2014. And more than 50 per cent of 3G subscriptions will go to emerging markets in 2011. By 2014, monthly data traffic will exceed the total for the whole of 2008.

When Jacobs had finished, his colleague Andrew Gilbert took over by video link. He revealed that 17 per cent of Vodafone subscribers now have a data plan, and that sales of 3G devices in Western Europe this year will total 148m, representing 28 per cent year-on-year growth. He also referenced Android’s spectacular year-on-year growth of 763 per cent between June 2009 and June 2010, compared to 79 per cent for Apple and 17 per cent for Symbian.

Afterwards the company demoed some of its solutions, ranging from mobile healthcare to mobile TV and recommendation engines. Jacobs also treated delegates to a live demo where he snapped a photo on his phone, then using Augmented Reality software, “locked on” to a photo frame on the stage and swapped the photo that was in it for the one he had just taken.
He also talked about the mobile phone as the “remote control to your life”, which is not the first time I’ve heard that phrase used, but nevertheless, it does sum up pretty accurately how what was once a humble talk and texting device has evolved into a pocket super-computer.

It just made me stop and think for a moment what a great industry this is to be covering, and judging by what I saw today, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

David Murphy