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On the eve of release of ‘smartbooks,’ Qualcomm expecting a surge in Internet-enabled devices
Those network providers better be reinforcing their networks, if this executive is right about the future of 3G.
Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, said this week that he predicts 3G phones to be 50% of the market by next year. In an interview with The Financial Times, Jacobs didn’t really explain his forecast with hard data, instead implying that the sheer power and utility of Internet-enabled smartphones like the Apple iPhone and Palm Pre, combined with their dropping costs, will drive customers to purchase them in droves in the next year.
In his next breath, however, Jacobs betrays the real reason why he would love 3G to be half the market by next year.
Qualcomm is currently working on rolling out a line of consumer electronics devices called “smartbooks”—sort of a halfway mark between smartphones and netbooks. Like smartphones, smartbooks would survive a whole day on its battery alone and, like a netbook, would be large enough for a keyboard and faster processor. And, of course, the device would always be online, connected to a 3G network.
Jacobs calls it “a perfect storm of the device capabilities, high-speed networks and all the web applications that are being created.” Still, this torrent of new devices is going to require robust 3G networks. That is, if the market takes off as much as Jacobs says.
Predicting explosive growth in the next year, Jacob’s numbers differ greatly from humbler estimates made in recent reports. According to statistics released just last week by market researcher and trends analyzer eMarketer, for example, we won’t be seeing 50% penetration of US mobile Internet users until after 2013. In that year, eMarketer’s predicts 43.5% penetration with about 134.3 million mobile subscribers.
Whose prediction seems the best: the one given by a man with money on the line or a trusted market analysis? The safest bet might be something in between. Though we may not see growth surge as much as Jacobs would like, eMarketer’s forecast may be a bit to gradual to accurately predict the future market.
Feel free to submit your own ideas about what 3G penetration will look like in the coming years.
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