CES 2013: Qualcomm shows star power at keynote
The CES 2013 keynote from Qualcomm featured Steve Ballmer, Big Bird, Desmond Tutu, new Snapdragons and Maroon 5
For his first pre-show CES keynote, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs delivered the goods. The pre-show keynote was filled with major new announcements and packed with various stars from all walks of life.
The pre-show keynote had previously always been keynoted by Microsoft with Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer delivering the address. Microsoft stepped away this year and Qualcomm aptly filled the slot and pressed on with the theme of "born mobile." Basically, this means that users are now so used to having a powerful device in their pocket with ubiquitous connections that they can't go back to not having it.
If Microsoft was the ideal company to expose the potential of computing for previous CES conferences, Qualcomm is the ideal company for a world where there are more than 6.4 billion mobile connections. That doesn't mean Microsoft just sat home though, as CEO Steve Ballmer crashed the party to speak about the partnership with Qualcomm on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.
Jacobs then had the big reveal: the Snapdragon 800 series. This next-generation system-on-a-chip has a quad-core processor, can utilize 4G LTE Advanced, can output Ultra HD (4K) videos, offers console-style graphics and it uses half the power as its predecessor. The Snapdragon 800 will power smartphones, tablets and computers and we can expect it to be in retail devices by the second half of the year.
Qualcomm also introduced the Snapdragon 600 line aimed at mid-tier devices, but the 800 is the one that will likely power some of the best phones of the year. NVIDIA made some waves the night before with the introduction of its Tegra 4 chipset and the portable gaming unit Project Shield, but Qualcomm's chip will likely power more retail devices when all is said and done.
Jacobs used the rest of the keynote to show off how the Snapdragon and other Qualcomm technologies are being used in a variety of products.
Film maker Guillermo Del Toro showed off high-definition trailers that were played off a Snapdragon 800 tablet and he even showed how it can play Ultra HD content. An actress from Star Trek talked about how Paramount is using the Gimbal SDK to create a sensor-heavy app for the upcoming movie. Rev. Desmond Tutu talked about the importance of mobile technology in health care in Africa and around the world, and we even got to see Big Bird demonstrate an upcoming augmented reality Sesame Street app that uses Qualcomm's Vuforia platform for a learning app.
The address ended with Jacobs talking about Qualcomm Halo, a wireless charging technology, and showing off an all-electric Rolls-Royce. Maroon 5 closed off the keynote with a few songs and they sounded pretty darn good.
The Snapdragon announcement was actually quite a major deal but Qualcomm and Jacobs also proved that it belonged in that coveted keynote spot. One of the largest trends we've seen at CES over the last few years is the "Internet of things;" the ability for nearly everything to be connected.
There are arguments about how valuable an Internet-connected fridge is but this is definitely where everything is going. Qualcomm appears well positioned to capitalize on that future, as Jacobs said it is definitely a company that was "born mobile."