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Qualcomm CEO: There's a future for Windows on ARM

Windows RT has not exactly set the world on fire. But Qualcomm's CEO, Steve Mollenkopf, thinks that the chipmaker has a future in the productivity computing space, and a future with Windows.

"We continue to be optimistic about the future of the Windows ecosystem whether that's through Windows RT or Windows Phone," he said.

Qualcomm is a giant in mobile computing but has never been able to break into productivity, largely because Apple and Microsoft won't write iOS or Windows for Qualcomm's chips. Microsoft's Qualcomm-compatible venture, Windows RT, hasn't sold well and Microsoft exec Julie Larson-Green speculated in November that it may be merged with Windows Phone.

"If you look at productivity computing as a category, a lot of people are doing more and more work on their tablets and their smartphones together, and there's a blending; at some size you can't tell the difference," he said. "If you look at Microsoft and Qualcomm, we have a strong relationship, and we expect it be an even stronger relationship going forward."

The move to 64-bit, initiated by Apple's A7 processor and continued in Qualcomm's Snapdragon 410 and Nvidia's Tegra K1, will help ARM-based processors in the productivity wars, Mollenkopf said.

While Qualcomm was left out of the iPad revolution, its chips are now appearing in some popular tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and Google Nexus 7, he said. He acknowledged that Qualcomm-based tablets are more known for media consumption than productivity, but said that "media consumption for us is actually a good thing," because power efficiency becomes so obvious when consuming a lot of media.

The OSes that are enabling the tablet market are becoming more robust and more feature rich.

The carriers are seeing this as an opportunity as well, getting additional subscriptions and becoming much more innovative and creative. You see the tablet and the smartphone being sold as a pair. We see the tablet business as a very important part of our growth strategy moing forward."

And new automotive, wearable and tablet technologies are evolving out of smartphone innovation, where Qualcomm is strong, he noted.

"The architecture of the industry is very much born out of the phone now. The iPad or various tablets that are being used, those are all mobile architectures that are being pulled into the tablet," he said.