• In an exclusive interview with Business Insider, Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk brushed aside the threat posed by quantum computing rivals like IBM and Google.
  • Instead, he said the biggest hurdle is the company’s reputation. Once known for its digital thermostats, Honeywell has pivoted under Adamczyk to become more of a technology firm serving industrial clients. 
  • Its new quantum computer — currently the world’s most powerful device — is a key step in that transformation journey. 
  • Adamczyk said he expects the new quantum computer to generate revenue this year, and turn a profit in the next few years. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Honeywell officially entered the quantum wars with a bang, introducing on Tuesday what is currently expected to be the world’s most powerful supercomputer — at least, compared to the others that have been publicly introduced.

The announcement was a blow to organizations like IBM and Google, which have bickered in recent months over whose quantum capabilities are more powerful.

And it raises the stakes in an increasingly intense battle not just between companies, but between countries, to lead on developing and commercializing the potentially revolutionary technology.

While it is still early days, Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk isn’t sweating the competition. And his message for rivals and the marketplace is simple: Honeywell is open for business.

The announcement “speaks for itself. We have the best technology in quantum computing that’s available in the world today,” he told Business Insider in an exclusive interview. “We have a functioning quantum computer, one that really takes customers.”

Quantum computers hold the promise to allow companies to run incredibly complex applications very quickly because algorithms can scale much faster compared to those used on standard devices. That’s because the tech relies on qubits which, unlike a standard bit that can only act as a one or a zero, can be both of those values at once — significantly upping the processing power. 

Honeywell’s approach is different than some competitors because it relies on a trapped ion system, where the qubits are suspended in air using electromagnets — ultimately reducing the number of errors.

But it’s not just the computer itself that sets Honeywell apart, according to Adamczyk. It’s also the ecosystem the company is building around the machine.

As part of Tuesday’s release, Honeywell said it has made investments in two quantum computing software providers: Cambridge Quantum Computing and Zapata Computing. Unlike the quantum startups that focus on providing hardware for the supercomputers, those firms help with building applications and developing systems that increase the capabilities of the devices.

Reputational hurdles

The biggest challenge for the industrial conglomerate might be its reputation.

Honeywell is perhaps best known for manufacturing digital thermostats and other consumer products — a business it doesn’t even operate any more.

Under Adamczyk, the firm has pivoted to be what he describes as a “software-industrial company,” or a technology business that caters to the industrial sector. And a key part of that is the hundreds of millions of dollars Honeywell invested in its supercomputer.

“There’s a big misnomer about who we are and what we do. We’re very much a technology company,” Adamczyk said. “This is more about the perceptions that Honeywell has to change, which obviously we are going to continue to do a better job of communicating. But the introduction of the world’s most powerful quantum computer is a good step in that journey.”

Adamczyk said the device will generate revenue this year — a claim supported by the news that JPMorgan Chase is Honeywell’s first public customer. He also said he expects the venture to turn profitable in the next few years.

Part of why Adamczyk is so bullish on the trajectory is how powerful the supercomputer is — and the pace at which Honeywell expects to scale the capabilities.

Honeywell’s computer has a quantum volume of 64, a metric that factors in the number of qubits and the complexity of the problem that the supercomputer must solve. That’s double the amount the nearest competitor has disclosed publicly.

And Honeywell expects that to grow tenfold each year for the next five years, well beyond the pace at which others are anticipating to scale.

“Quantum volume is likely to be the best measure that we have for looking at machines in this era,” Cambridge Quantum Computing CEO Ilyas Khan told Business Insider.

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