Jacobs keynote addresses state of the BREW nation

By Jason Ankeny Forgoing the onstage theatrics and antics of BREW events past, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs got serious during his annual keynote address Thursday, touting the accelerating evolution of the mobile multimedia experience, exploring the potential of fledgling services like social networking and m-payment, and even weighing in on the company’s ongoing patent infringement battle with semiconductor supplier Broadcom. “Innovations have historically revolved around enhancements in hardware,” Jacobs says. “But to me, when you look at the next generation of communications, it’s not about which technology will rule, but which applications and content.” He returned repeatedly to a credo celebrating “innovation, execution and partnership,” adding “Our vision is based squarely on the successes together we’re experiencing.” Jacobs spotlighted Qualcomm’s MediaFLO mobile video platform, which he says is ultimately about much more than television. “MediaFLO is core to our vision of making the phone the ultimate convergence device,” he says, citing services like datacasting—broadcasting data via radio waves—as a means to broaden multimedia beyond video and television to deliver real-time news, stocks and weather alerts. Jacobs also focused on mobile payment services, a hot topic at BREW 2007 in the wake of Verizon Wireless’ new partnership with m-payment services provider Obopay, a deal announced Wednesday. “Over the next few years, traditional retail will continue to expand into digital services,” Jacobs says. “Based on RFID and near-field technologies, consumers can use their phones to replace almost anything they carry in their wallets”—for example, mass-transit passes, hotel keys or airline tickets. He also envisions a mobile payment model shaped by the principles of social networking, with viral distribution as a means to appeal to consumers with coupons and loyalty cards. Another market high on Jacobs’ list of priorities: healthcare. In May, Qualcomm announced LifeComm, a network that will enable consumers to manage health issues from diet to diabetes on their handsets. “The phone is like a doc in the pocket,” Jacobs says, outlining services including emergency assistance and medication management. “[Health, wellness and fitness] offer an exciting new market for the BREW community.” From there, Jacobs addressed Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform, which promises ubiquitous broadband access to deliver increased functionality across consumer electronics devices and platforms. “Lack of connectivity is a huge barrier to adoption, so we’re proposing a platform compatible with a wide variety of wireless networks to leverage the network for computing and voice calls in areas where wireline access is unavailable or cost-prohibitive,” Jacobs says. “[Snapdragon represents] ubiquitous connectivity combined with processing performance and long battery life. We’re confident it’s a catalyst for future innovation.” Jacobs then moved to the white elephant in the room: The International Trade Commission’s recent decision to ban import of 3G handsets employing Qualcomm chips ruled to violate Broadcom patents. “We think the ITC’s decision and remedy are unreasonable and wrong,” Jacobs says. “We will immediately seek an emergency stay, and ask the president to veto ITC decision. But these actions have not distracted us from our focus—we will continue to persevere and execute on our vision.”