Why Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs Will Stifle the Smartwatch He Created

The Toq smartwatch that Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) unveiled yesterday at its annual Uplinq developers’ conference was a pet project that was conceived and shepherded through development by Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm chairman and CEO.

But at the end of the day, Jacobs told reporters and analysts, that doesn’t mean the San Diego wireless technologies giant he manages will crowd its partners by jumping into the consumer electronics business.

As if to underscore that point, Samsung (one of Qualcomm’s biggest partners) unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch in two places yesterday—at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin and at the Korean electronic giant’s Unpacked event in New York City. The timing could be interpreted as a bid to share smartwatch headlines, although some news accounts focused instead on the prospects of a looming smartwatch war, with predictions that Apple, Microsoft, and Google will soon unbutton their own wearable gadgets.

The Toq smartwatch was Qualcomm’s big surprise for an estimated 2,200 attendees who descended on the San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel for a developers’ conference that began Tuesday night and ends tomorrow. And Jacobs ensured an enthusiastic response by declaring everyone in the audience (except media and foreign attendees) would get one of the new smartwatches once they become available this fall.


Qualcomm Toqs and earpieces

As Jacobs later explained, Qualcomm plans to sell its smartwatch as a limited edition product that is intended chiefly to showcase some innovative technology features: Qualcomm’s low-power Mirasol display screen; Qualcomm’s Wi Power LE technology that re-charges the Toq’s internal battery wirelessly (a single charge lasts three to five days, depending on usage); Bluetooth audio technology that streams “true stereo” premium audio to wireless earpieces; and AllJoyn, Qualcomm’s proximity-based peer-to-peer networking technology.

“We’re trying to make it less about us, and more about what’s feasible,” Jacobs told reporters and analysts during a late-afternoon news conference. “Qualcomm is not going to be a big consumer electronics company.”

Of course, Jacobs conceded that might change if demand for the Toq proves to be huge.

Still, the company’s expects to … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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One response to “Why Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs Will Stifle the Smartwatch He Created”

  1. VladymirRogov says:

    “We’re trying to make it less about us, and more about what’s feasible”. Great American thinking… Cheers!