Mobilize 2010: Qualcomm Says It’s the Processor, Stupid

Steve Mollenkompf

It’s not just the available bandwidth on mobile networks that slows your mobile browsing down; sometimes it’s the processor that keeps your phone from providing the full mobile experience. That’s according to Steve Mollenkopf, EVP and general manager of CDMA Technologies at Qualcomm, speaking at today’s Mobilize conference in San Francisco.

That said, Qualcomm can’t just throw a high-end, quad-core processor at the problem; Mollenkopf said that processors built for the desktop versus mobile phones are very different animals. Among other things, mobile processors are optimized for power usage and thermal distribution.

Mobile processors also increasingly must deal with multiple wireless radios that are built into mobile devices. The consumer demand for constant connectivity means a proliferation of different radios that mobile manufacturers are embedding into their devices. “As the number of devices that demand to be connected at all times goes up, the number of radios in them also goes up,” Mollenkopf said. All of that is good news for Qualcomm, which delivers wireless chips for multiple OEMs.

But Qualcomm is increasingly looking beyond the wireless handset market, and is looking to more non-traditional devices and applications that could also benefit from pervasive wireless connectivity. One vertical that’s ripe for innovation and investment is healthcare, where Qualcomm is eyeing machine-to-machine connectivity.

In addition to healthcare, Mollenkopf said there are interesting applications for tracking personal assets like pets, or even children. “People will spend a fair amount of money on things to save them time or on their health,” he said.

The FCC’s approval of new rules that allow carriers to utilize empty or under-utilized “white space” TV spectrum could also be a boon to Qualcomm’s business. That could not just improve overall connectivity but could spur more radio switching between wireless networks, especially over short distances, Mollenkopf said.

Related research from GigaOM PRO (subscription required):

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