The mobile revolution is just getting started

The Internet is creeping into any and every thing, changing how we interact with the world -- and it with us.

Steve Mollenkopf The Communicator
As CEO of Qualcomm, Steve Mollenkopf heads the world's largest maker of chips for smartphones, tablets and wearable devices. He started his career with Qualcomm as an engineer more than 20 years ago.
Steve Mollenkopf
3 min read

On behalf of Qualcomm, I want to congratulate CNET on its 20th anniversary. Our company achieved a similar milestone this year, having now worked in the field of mobile technology for 30 years.

In reflecting back on the progress of technology, we've seen the power of mobile evolve and grow at an unprecedented pace. The mobile phone, the smartphone in particular, has had a transformative effect on the lives of people everywhere.

A mobile experience has become integral to our lives as today's phones, tablets, as well as a growing number of new types of connected devices, have become amazing machines that are filled with features and functions that would have been unimaginable when the first mobile phones debuted.

To appreciate the scale of the mobile revolution, just look at the numbers. There are now more than 7 billion mobile connections globally. And just last year the world spent $1.2 trillion on mobile technology. It's become hard to imagine life without it. Mobile has also had a tremendous impact on the growth of Internet, helping to drive the number of people accessing the Web to more than 3 billion globally. For millions of people, the phone is the first and only way they access the Internet.

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LG prepares to unveil the LG G2 in 2013. The G2 was the first globally available handset to boast Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor for all models and providers. Emmanual Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Anniversaries are a time not just for reflection, but also for looking forward. Each year's new generation of smartphone requires an increasing number of different technologies and experiences. Smartphones can be more than just a tool that connects us to people, information and entertainment, they can also start to be more intuitive to our needs and be an extension of us.

There is exciting research and development underway at Qualcomm and elsewhere to bring cognitive technologies to life that will take advantage of machine learning, computer vision, always-on sensing and intelligent connectivity. The goal is to empower the connected things around us to act intuitively, bringing not just new user experiences to life, but also more natural interactions, with enhanced security and privacy. Imagine if your phone recognized that you were in a meeting or movie theater and silenced itself, or tagged your photos automatically after you took them. That is cognitive technology in action.

As our smartphones evolve, so too do the numbers and types of things they connect us to. These "things" are becoming extensions of our smartphone. They are out at the edge of the Internet, enhancing mobile capabilities. Mobile is set to revolutionize everything from wearables to light bulbs to glucose monitors -- and much more. We are bringing the power of the smartphone to everything. For example, our cars are going to be connected to the Internet and the cloud, as well as to other vehicles, and they're going to be doing a lot more sensing of the environment around them to make them safer and help traffic move more efficiently. To do these things, it will use the same technology innovations found in smartphones.

The Internet is poised to undergo further transformation as the industry invents new ways of enabling us to connect and interact with everything. But this new Internet era comes with a number of challenges, including supporting billions of new connections and the continued increase in data demand, which we refer to as the 1000x data challenge. Qualcomm, and the industry we serve, are working on a variety of approaches to address this challenge, including further enhancements to 3G/4G and Wi-Fi technologies, greater network densification with small cells, and aggregating licensed and unlicensed spectrum to create more capacity.

Supporting the evolution of the Internet is about more than just providing higher data rates and capacity levels. We're helping create a connectivity fabric for everything by inventing new technologies that connect virtually anything in new and intelligent ways, empower new types of services, and drive convergence of spectrum, networks and deployment models.

The next era in the evolution of mobile and the Internet promises to change the way we all interact with the world. Each new "smart" connection brings new possibilities -- new ways to share information and discover new possibilities. Mobile is shaping industries, shaping our lives in wonderful new ways. Looking back on three decades of progress, the big lesson learned is that the more we connect, the more efficient, secure, and engaging life can become.

Photo courtesy of Getty