|Qualcomm: Redefining the Mobile Experience and Providing New Wireless Opportunities|
Qualcomm is taking mobile experiences to the next level by connecting device manufacturers, application developers, content publishers, network operators and consumers. Ziad Matar, Qualcomm’s Senior Director of Business Development for the Middle East region, elaborates on the subject and explains how Qualcomm has succeeded in continuing to redefine the mobile experience and providing new wireless opportunities.
The Smartphone Adoption
“More than two-thirds of existing smartphone users tend to upgrade their smartphones within a time period of 12 months, and those who still do not have a smartphone, at least half of them, intend to get one with their next handset purchase.” This is how Ziad Matar views the future of the smart world.
As smartphones are becoming more and more affordable, the segment is moving towards becoming one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the Middle East region. “The industry is undergoing a trend of democratization that is progressively reducing the cost of smartphones. The goal is to see this trend continue so that eventually everybody will have a smartphone,” says Matar.
Moreover, the socio-economic conditions play a major role in the adoption of smartphones especially in the Gulf region. According to Matar, roughly half of the handsets currently sold in the Gulf region are smartphones, which he says is indicative of how developed the Gulf region has become in recent years. The availability of Android platforms in the market has also added to the dominance of smartphones over other handsets even within the newly emerging economies that are still digging their way up in the market. As per Matar, micro vendors and new brands coming out from China and India pose a serious challenge to the lower segments of the industry. However, the name-brand handset vendors have fought back and emerged stronger with their new strategies to mitigate these threats.
The Regional Market
Qualcomm is known for its collaboration with operators, vendors and manufacturers across the Middle East region. This collaborative strategy not only enhances the company’s performance and services, but also helps it expand its market in terms of domination and penetration. Regarding network adoptions and mobile penetrations, Qualcomm is the leader says Matar.
For instance, 3G networks have been launched at speeds of 21 to 42 Mbps depending on the country. Among the countries that have launched 3G are Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. Despite this deployment, there is still a big block of countries that constitute a great segment of the population across the Arab world which has not yet launched 3G networks such as Iraq, Algeria and Yemen. Matar explains how Qualcomm works to help establish and grow 3G services in new regions such as these. First, the company licenses technology to operators to help launch their 3G networks and services. Then, Qualcomm offers technical assistance on things like network deployment and optimization, as well as consulting on handset strategy.
Qualcomm also plays a role supporting handset vendors to help their sales grow. There are many initiatives where Qualcomm has worked with operators, phone manufacturers, retailers and distributors to make the whole ecosystem work together. Matar provides an example where Qualcomm’s cooperation with an operator has been very prolific for the company while at the same time providing end-users with a special mobile experience. Matar states, “In Saudi Arabia, Qualcomm is running the unleash mobility campaign under the Qualcomm powered brand where every smartphone that is powered by Qualcomm will benefit from a special offer from Mobily. The offer consists of 3 months free mobile internet up to 5 GB per month.”
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform
With the Snapdragon chipset, Qualcomm is introducing a new way for both customers and the industry at large to identify the chip that suits their needs. Snapdragon processors are classified into 3 system classes: System 1 (S1), System 2 (S2) and System 3 (S3). They’re simple names which denote performance and feature set, says Matar.
Matar promises Snapdragon S4 within the upcoming year. He says, “Qualcomm’s S4 platform is the mobile computing model for the industry. We have more than has 20 customers and more than 70 designs wins in the pipeline specifically for S4.”
“2012 is going to be very exciting,” declares Matar. LTE will develop not just in terms of higher speeds and downloads, but also in the possibility to enable new breeds of mobile services, such as high-definition video streaming, mobile health services and more. On top of the ladder, there is a very major development with Microsoft as they are bringing Windows 8 platform to the tablet and smartphone market. Matar expects Windows 8 and Snapdragon will bring new benefits to the tablet space, potentially growing the overall opportunity with consumers and for Qualcomm.
Another interesting development lies in Augmented Reality (AR) technology. AR is the concept of superimposing virtual content such as graphics on top of a view of the real world as seen through a camera. AR transforms the mobile device into what has been described as a magic looking glass where you can interact with the real world. AR opens the door for new mobile applications and services from interactive media marketing to instructional how to aid help tips. Qualcomm's Vuforia augmented reality platform and software development kit for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets is now available for download. Vuforia is enabling a new generation of AR applications with interactive 3D experiences.
A lot of efforts have been exerted in developing applications locally and the concept of innovation is bubbling in the region’s mobile industry. According to Matar, this is the best place for all efforts to be exerted and this is where Qualcomm is exerting its creative and innovative efforts - in the mobile industry as a whole: its ecosystem, handsets, OS developers, platforms, content, applications, operators and manufacturers.
For Matar and Qualcomm, it is an exciting time for the industry. Mobile has a great platform with an economy that is welcoming everyone to jump on board and be the next innovator.