Who is winning CES 2014: Qualcomm or Intel?

Summary:Based on presentations and results thereafter from the last few editions of CES, the immediate takeaway is that Intel has been on the way down while Qualcomm has seen its star rise.


Compared to just a few years ago, there are few power players now amid a heavily trafficked sea of smaller tech companies floating around at the Consumer Electronics Show this year.

Two of the biggest (if not the biggest) players working to power the vast majority of the devices debuting at the Las Vegas trade show this week are Intel and Qualcomm.

Based on presentations and results thereafter from the last few editions of CES, the immediate takeaway is that Intel has been on the way down while Qualcomm has seen its star rise.

That narrative continued on Monday as each processor giant unveiled new and revised strategies to tackle the item at the top of the agenda this week : the Internet of Things.

The only way that all of those millions upon billions of mobile devices, sensors and apps are going to talk to each other to support the vision and promise of the Internet of Things is to build and embed a common architecture among them. Qualcomm and Intel, among others (such as Nvidia) want to serve as that common architecture.

Intel's problem is that it gets bogged down by the emotional rhetoric and technical theories that might work in at press conferences centered around new datacenters.

But that line of advertising doesn't sell well at the largest consumer tech event on the planet. Unfortunately for Intel, that was what was on display during what appeared to be a very lackluster presentation at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center yesterday.

Such a pattern has become evident since Intel made a splash with a surprise shift towards mobile at CES 2012. Yet there has been little positive of anything on that front since.

In contrast, Qualcomm's strength is that it is simply better at getting its message across to just about everyone, from the media to analysts to OEM partners and consumers alike.

Certainly in announcing its new chipsets, Qualcomm has also dipped into some Internet of Things rhetoric/connected devices mumbo jumbo and more.

But the semiconductor company has kept such talk to a minimum in comparison while serving up more (and often times better) concrete examples of new chips designed to support this long-term vision.

This isn't to say that Intel should just bow out now as Qualcomm has already sealed the deal.

Qualcomm has made it clear that its objective is to move beyond powering its current sweet spot of just smartphones and tablets, but rather every possible connected device from the living room to the garage. Such a plan is very ambitious -- if not excessive and beyond reason just yet.

It's just that Qualcomm has done a better job in making its case to the public that it has laid the groundwork to support the dream of the Internet of Things.

If anything, CES itself is all about getting the message out as quickly and efficiently as possible. Oh, and as flashy as possible too.

Qualcomm certainly achieved the first two better than Intel. But typically no one can beat Sony when it comes to flashy.

Topics: CES, Hardware, Intel, Mobility, Processors


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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