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The Wearables Tsunami Are You Ready For This Exciting Future?
Pankaj Kedia
Sr. Director and Business Lead, Smart Wearables-Qualcomm Technologies
Thursday, October 13, 2016
During the course of my career, over the last 20 years, I have had the good fortune to participate in three mobile phases: From Desktop to Laptop Computing, The Emergence of Smartphones, and The Wearables Tsunami. Each phase has, in fact, been a revolution in how we work, live, and play. Today, the wearables segment is exploding as consumers want access to their data and information not just on their laptops and smartphones but also on the go with wearable devices on them. Qualcomm, with its strong heritage in smartphones and wireless connectivity, is at it again and leading the revolution.

From Desktop to Laptop Computing

It was not that long ago that using a PC meant being tied to your desk at work or at home. In the early 2000s, the evolution of PCs from desktop to laptop took hold and enabled us to work anywhere - in a train, on a plane, or while sipping Starbucks. We were more productive and collaborated more easily with our friends and colleagues. We enjoyed the freedom and flexibility the laptop brought to our daily lives.

The Emergence of Smartphones

Over the last 10 years, we have witnessed the rise of the smartphone as the new computing platform. The emergence of the smartphone platforms has made it possible to carry the Internet in our pockets and catalyzed the now ubiquitous apps store. The smartphone has given rise to such apps as Uber and Airbnb, thus making the sharing economy possible. The smartphone has enabled us to constantly stay in touch with our family and friends - over text and IM, over WhatsApp and Skype, and over Facebook and LinkedIn.

The Wearables Tsunami

Over the last 1-2 years, wearable devices have started to emerge. They come in different shapes and sizes: a smart glass to complement what you see with your peripheral vision, a smart watch to notify you with priority interrupts, a smart band designed to keep you moving and fit, or a kid watch to keep track of your 5 year old. While it is very early to know which wearable form factor will win or which use case will be the killer one, these devices hold significant potential in how we will lead our lives in the future.

Putting It All Together

We are inherently mobile. We are happier and more productive when we are mobile. Laptops made it possible to work where we want, when we want. Smartphones have enabled us to connect with our loved ones in new and exciting ways. Wearables will make it possible to enhance our personal lives - by making us more productive, by enabling us to get and stay fit, by putting information on our wrists, by making our kids more secure, and by empowering us to stay in touch with our loved ones and with our vitals.

Each phase has built on the developments of the previous one. The Internet was first written on the desktop PC. The laptop made it possible for us to access this Internet while away from our desks. The smartphone made it possible to incubate a series of new services - be it Uber, Airbnb, Facebook or Snapchat - using the Internet as the foundation. Wearable devices increasingly rely on the Internet, whether through your smartphone or directly through 3G/4G connectivity, and are expected to enable a series of cloud-based services and data analytics.

While the laptop segment was led by traditional PC companies such as HP, Lenovo, Asus and Acer, the smartphone segment has witnessed massive shifts from Nokia, Palm, and Blackberry as the early leaders to Apple, Samsung, and the rising China and India manufacturers now shaping the space. The wearables segment is even more exciting with a potpourri of industry players jumping in the fray. We have many of the traditional PC companies such as HP and Asus active in the space and many of the traditional smartphone players such as Apple and Samsung investing in the category. Additionally, we are seeing the traditional watch and sports industries join the race with Fossil recently announcing a series of smartwatches and leading sports players such as Nike extending their franchise. And the wearables space is proving to be a good ground for such start-ups as Pebble and Fitbit to innovate and establish a viable business.

Qualcomm Technologies Leading the Charge

Qualcomm Technologies has led and shaped the smartphone space over the last decade. The company has worked with its customers to ship billions of smartphones and has earned its reputation as the mobile and wireless innovator. Qualcomm is now extending its prowess to the wearables segment where it is bringing technology that is setting new thresholds along the core vectors: smaller size, lower power, smarter sensing and seamless connectivity.

Over the past 6 months, Qualcomm Technologies has announced two new wearables product lines - Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 for general purpose wearables and Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 1100 for targeted purpose wearables. Together, these products represent the strongest portfolio in the industry and are helping the company win the hearts and minds of customers and consumers alike. We recently disclosed that we are now shipping more than 100 products across 30 countries after a mere 2 years of forming the wearables business.

Today, we have 100s of millions of laptops in use, billions of smartphones in our pockets and purses, and soon, we expect to have 10s of billions of smart devices around us. By the end of this decade, the question will not be whether you have a wearable device on you or which one are you wearing. Instead, the question will be how many wearables you have on you today.

Are you ready for this exciting future?
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