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Qualcomm Sees a Future After Smartphones

Matt Grob can see the future. Mr. Grob helped develop the first smartphone chips and is now in charge of long-term research and development at chip maker Qualcomm, which works with and influences the product roadmaps of Apple, Samsung Electronics, Google and nearly every other electronics maker of consequence. So he’s uniquely qualified to opine on the development of computing over the next decade.

There’s a lot to be excited about: drones, Web-connected and autonomous cars, and connected gadgets for the home, to name a few. All will rely on 5G chips, the next generation of wireless communication, expected to hit the market by 2020. Mr. Grob, the company’s chief technology officer, is hoping to get Qualcomm’s 5G chips out even earlier. It’s critical for Qualcomm to boost revenue from the new generation of products as fast as possible because smartphone sales have slowed. Qualcomm estimates that the smartphone chipset market will grow by less than 10% a year for the next four years. Meanwhile, the rise of low-cost chip makers from China and Taiwan is bringing down chip prices. Qualcomm recently laid off 15% of its workforce.

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