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Qualcomm Eyes NextGen Mobile Internet Devices

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Las Vegas—Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs believes that as much as wireless technology has already dramatically changed the way people live and communicate with each other, the consumer electronics industry has only begun to scratch the surface.

During his keynote address here Friday, Jacobs laid out his vision for a world of devices—including smartphones, smartbooks and netbooks—that will not only provide the compute power of a high-end PC but the customization, design and integration of software and hardware that will give users the Internet experience they really want, wherever they happen to be.

“Wireless will impact every aspect of our lives,” he said. “Convergence means all kinds of devices are getting wireless inside them. What’s interesting about something like Amazon’s Kindle is that people don’t even think about it as a wireless device. They just use it to read their books.

“That kind of magical experience will be in a lot more consumer electronic devices in the future,” he added.

In keeping with theme, PC maker Lenovo on Friday debuted the Skylight smartbook, a netbook-sized device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform with 1GHz ARM processor.

It features a 10-inch HD screen, 20GB of flash storage, Wi-Fi, 3G wireless connectivity and a battery that promises up to 10 hours of interrupted service for a retail price of $499. It’s expected to hit the market in April.

What could make Skylight particularly appealing to the social networking crowd is a feature that allows all of a users’ RSS feeds, e-mails, tweets, Facebook friends as well as video and audio content to be displayed in a series of interfaces that organizes all the disparate data into easily accessible fields.

“A new era is coming for the mobile Internet,” said Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang. “The notebook will still be an important device but it can no longer satisfy people’s needs. They need a smaller form factor. Something that’s sleek, easy to connect to the Internet and tailored for Internet content rather than just for office use.”

Yang said Lenovo, which this week introduced LePhone, its first smartphone, expects smartphones and smartbooks to be the next big growth markets for the consumer electronics industry.

“We talk a lot about the conversion of wireless and consumer electronics,” Jacobs said. “Well it’s happening in a big, big way right now. These devices are better and much more useful when connected to the network and each other.”

Jacobs also announced that Qualcomm is adding Google’s Chrome OS to its list of supported operating systems, joining the likes of Android, Linux, Symbian and Windows Mobile.

With 35 patents in wireless technology, Jacobs clearly knows of what he speaks. He said that if you took all the mobile phones in use today and stacked them up, they would construct a wall that would exceed the length and height of the Great Wall of China.

“The phone has become your computer,” he said. “Smartphone shipments will exceed those of all computers in 2011.”

And if he’s right, 2011 will be the year of the mobile shopper.

Qualcomm this year will unveil a mobile commerce application called Swagg that is scheduled to be available by the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Jacobs said the app will allow users to conduct all sorts of transaction on the fly including the purchase and exchange of gift cards, the redemption of personalized sales and marketing offers and the ability to manage all of a user’s various reward and loyalty programs from their smartphone.

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