Qualcomm's Jacobs fills CE thought leader gap

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs presented a vision of the future for the consumer electronics industry this morning, as he opened the first official day of the show with a thought provoking keynote.

The core of that future is mobile services and technology. “All consumer electronics business are either in the mobile business or soon will be”, said Jacobs.

This mobile transformation is most pronounced in the developing world, according to Jacobs. Emerging markets are increasingly mobile-centric. The developing word’s share of the smart phone market is growing, and will soon hit the 50% mark. Mobile technology will be the biggest driver of growth in the years ahead.

Mobile networks are frequently the only way that people in emerging countries can access the Internet. A Grameen Foundation initiative funded in part by Qualcomm, PT Ruma, began by financing simple cell phones for women in Indonesia, who in turn built a small business by selling phone calls on a per minute basis to others in their villages. But it quickly turned into a smart-phone based, data centric business model because of the growing demand for information services, even in the world’s poorest places.

“Our goal is to enable better phones for every market at the lowest price possible”, said Jacobs, setting a sub-$150 target for smartphones that can address this demand and announcing a Qualcomm initiative to develop reference designs for emerging markets.

Jacobs balanced his keynote time between talking about using technology to promote growth and better lives in the developing world and promoting Qualcomm’s newest products. He talked about the next generation Snapdragon S4 processor which is aimed at the television and ultra-compact laptop segments, as well as mobile phones. Jacobs also shared the stage with partners such as Nokia and Lennovo, keeping the product pitches low key and focused on consumer benefits.

It was a good example of how to use a keynote opportunity to say something meaningful about how the CE industry can make the world a better place, while at the same time positioning a company’s brand and delivering a couple of pointed, tactical marketing messages.