Qualcomm's Paul Jacobs Wearing Unidentified Secret Smartwatch
The chairman and CEO of Qualcomm was in Silicon Valleylast week talking about a broad range of topics including the future of Moore's Law, wearable computing and the explosion of mobile computing.
In a stage presentation with John Hollar, CEO of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., Paul Jacobs spoke about his hands-on experience as a young engineer working in his father's company in the 1990?s. He also touched briefly on tablets, the growing mobile ecosystem, the establishment of the CDMA standard and the company's digital sixth sense vision.
Responding to questions from the audience, Jacobs said the company was not bound by Moore's Law but nonetheless he was worried about the future.
"Qualcomm is not based on Moore's Law, but Moore's Law created the opportunity that created Qualcomm," said Jacobs. "We know how to get to smaller size nodes, but we see economic indicators slowing and we are worried about it - we can see the end from here." He added, "If we can't make cheaper transistors, we'll look to other things like 3D."
Jacobs' appearance was part of the museum's ongoing "Revolutionaries" series, sponsored by Intel. Hollar noted that perhaps the Computer History Museum and the Revolutionaries series was serving as a kind of Switzerland, given the competition between the two companies today. The two companies are challenging each other in key computing segments, with Qualcomm the clear leader in phones today and Intel maintaining its lead in traditional computing segments. According to the latest S&P 500 ranking, Qualcomm is ranked 29th in market capitalization at $113.82 billion, slightly edging out Intel, which ranks 30th at $111.85 billion.
Jacobs spoke extensively about his personal career trajectory and how he learned first-hand that the best technology doesn't always win. At one point during the conversation, he mentioned a smart watch he was wearing as an example of where mobile technology is going, but when Hollar asked to see it, Jacobs coyly pulled down his sleeve and would not reveal the device. Qualcomm, along with several other companies including Google, Apple, Samsung and Intel are talking increasingly about wearable computing as the next big thing.
Jacobs also acknowledged Qualcomm was late to embrace tablets, saying "we we're a slow starter," and admitted that Windows RT "has not turned into a great business for us, but we're optimistic." He noted however that the company now has 40 tablet designs in the works.
Among the attendees, were 150 international students from places such as Germany, South Africa and China participating in the People to People Technology program at Stanford University. Many of the students crowded around Jacobs after he left the stage to ask questions and pose for photos.