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Qualcomm's connected world

Dr Paul Jacobs started by looking back ten years, neatly avoiding the issue that back then Qualcomm meant CDMA and so were the enemy. Mobile data may have existed, but people didn’t want it. What he sees is a world in which everything is connected. Tens of billions of devices rather than the few billion people with a handset – but the handset will be the hub.

That connection will be through multiple types of radio so that your phone can talk to your TV. If it’s as much of a pain to connect a device as it is with todays Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, that’s not good enough. Those radios will explore the local environment but they'll need to do it at very low power, and to do that it needs to happen at the hardware level. Guess what Dr Jacobs makes? Hardware.

Next up was a very impressive Stephen Elop. Not only did he avoid the A word, he stayed away from the M word too, with only one passing reference. His focus was the low end: getting the internet out to people who can only afford the cheapest phones. Making them aspirational, dual SIM, and Qwerty. Nokia ships a million phones a day to these people and they will get Nokia Maps, Nokia Money, Nokia Life Tools, more social networking, instant messaging, and email solutions – all on Series 40.

As he was avoiding the M word, Jacobs didn’t include Bing, even though part of the deal announced last week is that all Nokia phones, not just smart ones, will get Bing. The overtone was of social responsibility. Nokia is a caring company, doing well by doing good. In a very clever twist, “Connecting People” is no longer about voice, connecting people to each other, but connecting people to their environment for health, banking, education, and agricultural information.

Back to the Future

And while the two Canadians and one American looked to the future, Ryuji Yamada, president and CEO of NTT DOCOMO, lives in it. Japan has 100 per cent 3G penetration, and he expects data ARPU to overtake voice next month. Machine-to-machine connections are heading for double-digit growth, and NTT DOCOMO will sell six million smartphones in the year including some with LTE.

Connected devices include the $11/month Otayori photo service, which gets you a digital picture frame you can put in your old folks' house so that you can send pictures of their grandchildren by email. Mechanical diggers now have cellular tachographs in them so that the owners can both track utilisation and, if they are started at night, know if they are being stolen.

The mix of the speakers led moderator Ben Wood to ask the insightful question: “Has the focus of development moved to the US?” The response from Paul Jacobs was that it’s a global industry, and most of his money comes from selling chips to Asia. Stephen Elop countered that Nokia was a proud Finnish company, and Jim Balsillie said that RIM is the operators' friend.

Ben Wood also asked Stephen Elop about his declaration that Microsoft (there, I’ve said it) and Nokia constituted a Third Ecosystem, after Apple and Google. Had he not noticed the Canadian sitting next to him?

Elop gave a very different answer to the one that he gave to the same question at a press conference on Sunday. Then he said “Qwerty phones, we make them too”. Today, ever the gentleman, he talked of being in the same ecosystem as RIM. The one that was the operators' best friend. So perhaps it was both the handset manufacturers playing to the gallery. ®

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