Applications software for Google Inc's "Android," a platform for mobile phones, are now steadily being developed. And it seems that Android-based mobile phones will be released as early as within 2008.
Qualcomm Inc has been involved in the launch of Android from an early stage and developed many chipsets compatible with it. The company expects that, if Android becomes popular, more chipsets for mobile phones will be shipped.
However, Qualcomm has also vigorously promoted "BREW" (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless), a software platform for mobile phones. Won't Android stymie the diffusion of the BREW? I interviewed Paul E Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm.
Q: How does Qualcomm regard Android?
Jacobs: Android is very good software. Though it is still under development, we highly evaluate and expect a lot from it. But, in respect of business, there are some problems.
Although Google has to develop a good relationship with many mobile-phone operators, the company had some conflicts with them, for example, in the auctions of radio frequencies in the US. There are some unpredictable issues like this, and we are a bit worried about them.
Q: If Android becomes a widely-prevalent software platform, won't it hinder the diffusion of the BREW, which you have vigorously promoted?
Jacobs: I don't think so. I think Android is for relatively high-end mobile phones like smart phones. On the other hand, our BREW is for use in a broader range of mobile phones such as middle-range and low-end handsets. The BREW has different applications. I don't think Android will curb the growth of the BREW though It depends on how widely Android will be used.
Q: Qualcomm has retained customers by combining the company's chipset for mobile phones (MSM series) and the software platform BREW. That was possible because the compatibility of the MSM series and the BREW is high and synergetic effects could be expected.
However, the situation changed when Qualcomm adopted Android. You became just one of the companies that ship chipsets for Android-based mobile phones. On the Android platform, can you keep your strength?
Jacobs: I believe we can. For example, we are developing "Snapdragon," a high-end chipset for handsets. Qualcomm is the only company that can lower the power consumption of such a high-speed chip. I think, because of technical advantages like this, we can defeat other companies.
In addition, we are advancing the development in close cooperation with Google. That's another advantage. It is very favorable for us that our chipsets are now more likely to be mounted in higher-end mobile phones due to the diffusion of Android.