Qualcomm to create Smart Speaker ecosystem

Qualcomm is set to create a new smart speaker chipset and reference design which can be used by other manufacturers to quickly develop smart speakers and voice-enabled accessories. This design-work creates another avenue for Qualcomm to partner with manufacturers, sell more chips, and create income.

Qualcomm's design

Qualcomm's design includes:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset

  • Speaker system

  • Far Field microphones

  • Bluetooth

  • Wifi

  • Connectors for designs with and without screens

  • Battery and plug-in power variants.

This forms the basis of what every smart speaker product may need, and integrates several components, making it easier for other brands to develop a smart speaker product. The benefit for Qualcomm is that those manufacturers then become customers, buying chips from Qualcomm, generating income.

Highs and Lows

Qualcomm is on a high at the moment, recently revealing a lang-term project alongside Microsoft, to create a new class of Qualcomm Snapdragon powered tablets, laptops, and convertible devices. In addition to Qualcomm's dominance in providing chips for Android phones, Qualcomm's chips will soon be making their way in to affordable tablets and laptops.

On the low side, Qualcomm is currently in a legal dispute with Apple, over patent fees for Qualcomm chips in various models of the iPhone. Apple is refusing to pay Qualcomm billions of dollars in patent fees until Qualcomm re-models its patent licensing agreement. Apple feels that Qualcomm's current licensing model unfairly exploits the popularity of Apple products, by charging a fee based on the final retail cost of the device, instead of just on the value of the chip.

In the meantime, Qualcomm chips are making their way in to more and more Android phones, Windows laptops, and smart devices, but it still wont be enough to offset the delayed income from Apple, worth billions of dollars.

The return of the PDA (from the 1990's)

As more smart things start to be built and sold, they need chips that connect wirelessly via LTE, Bluetooth and Wifi, and have long battery life. Qualcomm's Snapdragon family of chips perfectly suit this type of device, when compared to chips from Intel and AMD.

Expect to see more PDAs make a return from the 1990s, updated to today's standards. Personal Digital Assistants were the forerunner to the smartphone, and combined a clock, calendar, to-do list, alarm, reminders, notes, address book, and sometimes phone connectivity, into a small pocketable device, that either had a small physical keyboard or a touchscreen with a stylus.

PDAs were manufactured by Sharp, Palm, and others, well before the iPhone existed. PDAs were relegated to the bin or the bottom draw with the release of the BlackBerry - a smart, secure, telephony-enabled PDA with a great keyboard and secure corporate software.

BlackBerry was in turn crushed by the rise of the iPhone and then later by Android.

The return of the PDA powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon will be another filip for Qualcomm, giving vendors the choice to use Android or Windows-on-ARM for the operating system.

Until next time,

Xavier Zymantas


XYZ Media Group

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