Qualcomm (NSDQ: QCOM) didn’t have a lot of news to share during its keynote Tuesday morning at CES 2012, but it did illustrate just how much things have changed in the worlds of consumer electronics and computing by setting up comparisons to rival chip maker Intel’s keynote later in the day.
Paul Jacobs, CEO of the mobile chip maker, showed off a concept tablet running Microsoft’s Windows 8, the first version of Windows that will work on the ARM instruction set used by Qualcomm and others to build chips for smartphones and tablets. Such tablets have been promised since last CES, so it’s not like the demonstration was a surprise (although it was an LTE tablet for AT&T’s network).
However, the marriage of Windows and ARM is definitely a problem for Intel: Jacobs called it “a game changer.” Intel (NSDQ: INTC) has famously struggled to shift its PC processor expertise into the mobile world, and while CEO Paul Otellini will likely show off the company’s newest and best smartphone chip to date later on Tuesday, Qualcomm actually has the inside track on a new generation of Windows devices that could be more interesting than the ultrabooks Intel talked up Monday at its press conference or traditional PCs.
Qualcomm did announce the creation of a new X Prize with the organization behind the famous private spaceflight contest. The group plans to award $10 million to whoever can design and develop a handheld medical device that would allow people to diagnose themselves, drawing inspiration from the “tricorder” in the Star Trek series.
And it also announced that Hanvon will produce an e-reader for consumers in China using Qualcomm’s Mirasol display technology. The companies did not commit to a release date.
But for the most part, Jacobs’ address was like many other CES keynotes: designed more as an infomercial for Qualcomm’s range of businesses as opposed to a launching platform for any new products or strategies.