Qualcomm - beyond mobile phones

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My last Qualcomm article talked about its mobile phone chipset strategy. Here, I want to highlight Qualcomm’s other hardware offerings that greatly expand its market possibilities, especially in the mobile computing space. These products and the software/service initiatives that the company has been taking recently allow it to shed its ‘CDMA-company’ or ‘mobile-phone chipset company' tag to help become a more global and well-recognized brand.

Gobi is an embedded solution for notebooks that packs EV-DO, HSPA and GPS capabilities together. More than the component technologies in Gobi, I like the concept of a universal solution. While it will be some time before such combination chipsets are fully utilized, there will certainly be a market for them(perhaps including other standards such as WiMAX, LTE as well.) With convergence shaping up better by the day, Gobi is a very brilliant initiative from a company that seeks to expand its footprint.

Qualcomm, with a head-start in this concept, has gained good traction with the vendors. HP recently announced their plans to ship Gobi-enabled laptops. The company has secured design wins with five major laptop OEMs and several major networks have certified the Gobi. With the first Gobi-enabled laptop shipping in the June time-frame, the company expects full revenue impact in fiscal 2009. Gobi is currently being designed into enterprise devices. As it succeeds in its effort to push Gobi into consumer-grade devices, we will start to see a much higher positive impact on the company’s revenue. You can read earlier Gobi coverage from my blog here, here and here.

Qualcomm’s other big move towards mobile computing and convergence is the Snapdragon. The Snapdragon platform is designed as the single-stop shop for handset vendors looking to converge on mobility and computing (e.g. a hybrid of the iPhone and the Air.) The low-power, high performance platform, Qualcomm says, is designed for pocket-sized portable computers with 4-5 inch screens. This platform is already designed into 15 devices and is expected to hit the markets in the latter half of this year.

Sanjay Jha suggests that the Snapdragon does not compete with Intel’s Atom processor mentioning that the latter targets larger form-factor devices. But it is evident to me that Qualcomm is looking to take on Intel by betting on the smaller form-factor. If you can get a device that can do everything and more than Intel’s Atom-enabled UMPCs and yet fit into your pocket, what would you rather buy? More on Snapdragon can be found in my blog here and here.

The third product is the Snap Star or QST solutions targeting consumer electronics. The Snap Star solutions combine GPS, wireless connectivity, multimedia and broadcast TV to consumer-oriented devices such as personal navigation and mobile entertainment devices. This, it seems to me, is targeting the GPS flavor of Intel’s Mobile Internet Devices (MID).

These industry-defining products that Qualcomm has lined up can thrust it forward beyond mobile-phones. The company is also very aggressive about complementing these solutions with mobile services. Mobility and convergence present wonderful market opportunities. Qualcomm with its comprehensive product roadmap is positioned to exploit them.

Posted by Vijay Nagarajan at 1:00 AM  


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