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Qualcomm Not Ceding "Internet of Things" to Intel or Anyone Else

The Internet of Things will look a lot like the smartphone market, says CEO Steve Mollenkopf.

Asa Mathat

While Intel, Microsoft and BlackBerry are all aiming to seize on the “Internet of Things” after largely missing out on mobile, the winners in the phone market have no intention of missing out on the next big thing.

“I think a lot of it will borrow the smartphone technology almost directly,” Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said in an interview shortly after his appearance onstage at the Code Conference.

And Mollenkopf said the things that made Qualcomm strong in phones — top-notch modem technology, power management and experience with all the major operating systems — will serve it well.

“I think it is going to be difficult to come at it without a strong position in the phone, but people will try,” he said. Intel, for example, has made a big bet on small devices, creating its Quark line of chips as well as various other wearable projects, including a “smart shirt.”

Qualcomm dipped its toe into making its own wearable device with last year’s Toq smartwatch. But Mollenkopf said the purpose was to show off its Mirasol screen technology and other homegrown components that might be well suited for wearables.

“We learned a lot of things,” Mollenkopf said. Nonetheless, don’t expect a Toq 2.

“We’re not well outfitted to really go into the end-consumer play,” he said. “We experiment every once in a while, in some cases just to convince people that they should do it. We’re an enabler more than anything else.”

It’s not clear, though, that Qualcomm has managed to convince anyone to adopt Mirasol, which offers some of the benefits of E-Ink while also being able to display colors and video. “There’s certainly an opportunity there,” Mollenkopf said.

Mollenkopf said he is keeping an eye on whether continued investment in Mirasol makes sense.

“It is going slower than what we originally thought,” he said. “But it is an area we are evaluating. We are always looking at projects as to whether they still have legs going forward.”

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