"Mobile is the largest technology platform in history," began Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm, leading the opening keynote at his company's Uplinq conference this morning in San Diego. "And it has become a force for social change."
Jacobs focused his talk on the continuing evolution of mobile, the opportunities for developers and how advances in mobile computing are empowering developers to change the lives of people everywhere. He talked about augmented reality, 3D technologies, peer-to-peer gaming, sensors the "Internet of Things" and other chipset-based innovations both arriving now and expected in the future.
People Don't Care about PCs...the Buzz is All About Mobile
To paint an image of the very large scale of the mobile ecosystem, Jacobs talked numbers: There are 1.3 billion 3G connections worldwide, and there will be 2 billion more connections by 2015. Mobile data use will increase 10 to 12 times over the next four years. There are over 120 HSPA+ mobile networks and 180 commercial EVDO networks offering mobile broadband. There are 200 LTE networks planned, 20 of which have launched now.
To drive the point home on a less technical scale for the conference attendees rusty on their infrastructure terminology, he put it like this: Google Maps usage on mobile has eclipsed its usage on the desktop.
The buzz in the computer industry now is "all about mobile," Jacobs continued. "People don't care if their next PC is more powerful than their last one...all you hear about is smartphones." It's telling that even Microsoft has announced its next version of Windows will run on mobile processors, he said, referring to the company's plans to run Windows 8 on ARM-based systems from its partners like NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.
While Jacobs touched briefly on the progress of its Brew (i.e, low-end) offerings (1 billion Brew devices since launch; four out of 10 devices across all tiers of mobile are Brew-based), the majority of the keynote involved looking beyond the roadmap of these app-running, not-so-smart smartphones and to what's next.
Mobile Unleashing the "Greatest Wave of Creativity in History"
And what is next? Only that mobile is going to unleash the "greatest wave of creativity in history."
Jacobs said he knew that sounded like a "heady" proposition, especially because many mobile developers are just trying to build an app people like, he says. "But your app could reach hundreds of millions of users!"
Now is the time to "think and act globally," Jacobs said. "Mobile is now the dominant computing platform, and it's never going back."
Mobile Enabling New Entertainment from Hollywood and Beyond
To demonstrate what this new mobile era looks like, Qualcomm brought several partners out on stage to talk about their innovations built on top of Qualcomm's offerings. Michael Yanover, head of business development at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) (the firm that reps the Julias and Brads of the entertainment world), spoke of how Hollywood's next big act would involve mobile.
It's about engaging the viewer at home or at an event through their mobile, Yanover explained. But there's more than that, too. Actors who make their living creating emotional experiences with audiences will now do so on mobile.
To that end, CAA has created CML (Creative Mobile Labs), which, through a partnership with Qualcomm, will bring Hollywood talent to mobile app experiences. And Yanover invited developers with "great ideas" to come to CML so it could work with them to deliver on those ideas.
Next came Rikko Sakaguchi, executive VP and chief creation officer of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, to talk about the new vision for Sony as a blended communications and entertainment brand. The company's first step into this arena was with its Xperia offerings, which now include the Arc, Neo, Pro and Play, the latter often referred to as the "PlayStation phone" for its combined gaming and mobile experience.
Robert Schoeppe, mobile license and acquisition senior director at Namco Bandai Games America, followed to demonstrate how his company used Qualcomm's peer-to-peer gaming system called AllJoyn to take Pacman from a single player game to a multi-player game, with Pacman Kart Rally 3D.
Augmented Reality Demoed as Marketing Tool
AR, or augmented reality, was also at the forefront of today's keynote, with a sobering presentation from John Batter, co-president of production, Dreamworks Animation SKG. He produced data showing the decline of DVD sales over the years.
Batter said he believes that in the long-term, the overall market will grow as a result of the move to digital, but in the short term, consumers aren't taking up digital goods that quickly. In the meantime, Dreamworks is using AR to promote sales of both physical and digital media.
He showed an example of this with the studio's new hit, Kung Fu Panda 2, which will be marketed using in-store signage at major retailers like Walmart and Target. The signs feature QR codes that, when scanned, make an AR-enabled app available to end users. With this app, customers can take photos of themselves standing next to the "real" panda right in the store. But the app will also help to pre-sell the DVD, by offering you an exclusive 20 minute digital short if you buy the DVD now, paying at the cashier or over the phone.
A somewhat more innovative demo of AR followed, where it was used by pointing a phone directly at DVD cases to play movie trailers. The trailers actually played on the cases themselves, aligning up with the size and orientation of the cases. Three DVDs were even able to play three different trailers simultaneously. Although DVDs may eventually disappear, the idea of playing multiple videos at the same time just by pointing your phone at real-world objects was, perhaps, the more impactful takeaway here.
Mobile is "Digital 6th Sense"
Dr. Jacobs concluded the keynote by looking forward into the future of mobile, calling mobile our "digital 6th sense" which will become the primary way we interact with the world around us. Your phone will listen and see everything using the sensors connected to your body, sensors out in the environment, the people around you and more - and it will adjust itself accordingly. Imagine a phone that adjusts to your mood, or your vital signs, he said.
"You are the creators of this experience," Jacobs said, speaking to the developers in the audience. Qualcomm just wants to "free you up to do what you do best: innovating."