Qualcomm unveils new IoT solutions, says it already powers 20M connected cars

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is pressing ahead with new chipset offerings in the Internet of Things space, and it is arguing that it has already generated significant business from IoT devices.

At an event in San Francisco, the silicon giant said there are 20 million cars on the road that use its chips to for broadband connectivity, and its chips were used to connect 120 million home devices last year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Qualcomm President Derek Aberle said Qualcomm generated more than $1 billion in revenue from businesses other than handsets in the 12 months that ended in September 2014. He also predicted such business would account for more than 10 percent of Qualcomm's sales in the current fiscal year, which runs until the end of September.

"Qualcomm's vision is we need to fundamentally transform the edge of the Internet," Aberle said. "In order to connect these billions of devices, we need a wide range of technologies: connectivity, computing solutions, interoperability platforms. We're investing in a wide breadth of technology." Aberle noted that Qualcomm is pushing ahead in both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity for IoT.

At the event, Qualcomm's Atheros unit introduced two new IoT chipset solutions. The QCA401x is designed to add intelligence to household appliances and even light bulbs, Raj Talluri, a Qualcomm senior vice president, said at the event, according to the Journal.  The other solution, the QCA4531, is designed to help companies that want to make hubs that coordinate communications among different devices.

The Qualcomm event comes days after Samsung Electronics unveiled a set of modules under the "Artik" brand that contain the processors, memory, communications chips and software required for device makers to create connected devices. Artik will compete with similar products from Qualcomm, Intel and others.

Aberle added that Qualcomm is going to push the field forward by focusing on cognitive computing. "In addition to the way we architect the processors and drive performance, there's reasoning, in which the devices can anticipate needs that make them more useful and intuitive," he said, adding that Qualcomm will "be driving these solutions first in the mobile platform, but we'll start seeing them in robotics, automotive and drones."

Aberle said Qualcomm thinks 5 billion non-handset connected devices by 2018 "is definitely reachable." Research firm Gartner forecasted in November 2014 that 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and will reach 25 billion by 2020.

Additionally, Qualcomm updated its AllPlay solution for home media by adding new features for streaming music wirelessly inside people's homes. The company added a new feature to combine both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi whole home streaming. Now, all local or cloud-based music on a person's smartphone can be streamed to any Bluetooth-compatible AllPlay speaker and then re-streamed over Wi-Fi to multiple AllPlay speakers, all in synch. Additionally, Hitachi America today launched three Wi-Fi speakers powered by AllPlay.

For more:
- see this Qualcomm release
- see this Bloomberg article 
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see these three separate releases from Qualcomm 

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