The Sixth Sense and the Global Future of Smartphones: CES Keynote Preview

By Josh Wolonick  JAN 03, 2013 4:45 PM

Charlie Rose's interview with Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs provided some tips about what CES attendees can expect.


MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL The keynote speaker of the Consumer Electronics Show is usually one of the biggest leaders in the technology field, like past speakers Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. This year, on January 7, the CEO and Chairman of Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Paul Jacobs, will be delivering the keynote address in Las Vegas. He’s not the most well-known name in technology, but his company is one of the leading producers of chips for computers, tablets, and phones. Moreover, he has big ideas for the future of smartphones and a globally connected world centered around what he deems a “sixth sense,” a new, computer-enabled way of living our lives.

In his fascinating interview with Charlie Rose last night, Jacobs laid out his history with mobile devices at Qualcomm, and what he thinks the next few years will bring in technological innovation. Qualcomm was putting Internet protocols into phones as early as the 1990s, and Jacobs even tried to sell a radio to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) for its Newton, which would have essentially made it a smartphone. It didn’t work out with Apple.

A lot of the potential for smartphone growth that Jacobs discusses will come from global markets, particularly from developing nations where people are making the leap straight from no phones to smartphones, completely skipping the landline phone. Moreover, many people who never had computers will now have Internet access via smartphones without ever having owned a desktop. According to Jacobs, 84% of Chinese people read their news from a smartphone, compared to less than one-third of people in the US.

I recently wrote an article asking: Are Apple and Google preparing for the death of smartphones? Though the technology will certainly someday be superseded (perhaps by wearable computers), it seems unlikely that the death of the smartphone will come any time soon. Jacobs said that between now and 2016, 5 billion smartphones will be sold, a lion’s share of these going to developing markets like China.

Speaking with Charlie Rose, Jacobs laid out his intentions for the CES keynote speech: “I really want to project where the future’s going to go.” Jacobs imagines smartphones that are able to move through space with their user and connect with other phones, and other devices, to have a constant influx of information. This is the "sixth sense" Jacobs has been talking about, allowing smartphone users an entirely new way to see the world every day. He claims that this sixth sense, with smartphones in constant communication with other devices, is not very far off. We’ll definitely hear more about it on January 7.

Click on the image below to reach the Charlie Rose  Web page.

No positions in stocks mentioned.