In Challenge for Emerging Netbook Market, Qualcomm Moves From Smart Phones to Smartbooks

9/8/09Follow @bvbigelow

As interest builds in the coming introduction of new wireless netbooks, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs tells the San Diego Union-Tribune that many netbooks based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor also will include Qualcomm’s MediaFLO, the company’s satellite-based TV broadcast for mobile devices.

In an interview with the newspaper’s editorial board, Jacobs says the new line of netbooks—which he calls “smartbooks”—will use MediaFLO technology so users can watch live events and FloTV programming transmitted directly to their display screens. But the technology also will be used to rapidly broadcast and store Internet content. Qualcomm calls it “data casting,” Jacobs says. “That’s sending snippets of data down, so headlines, weather, sports, stock quotes — whatever you might be interested in — we are looking at broadcasting that down to the device. So when you open it up, there’s already live data on it. I think that will be pretty compelling.”

Paul Jacobs

Paul Jacobs

The next three months should tell whether Jacobs is right, but we should expect a few more surprises by the time the Christmas shopping season begins in earnest.

In June, Collins Stewart analyst Ashok Kumar said Hewlett-Packard plans to launch a line of netbooks before the year ends that will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, rather than the Intel Atom processors now dominating the sector. As the world’s No. 1 desktop PC maker, HP’s decision to power its netbooks with Snapdragon chips represents a significant endorsement for Qualcomm over Intel and the line of Atom processors developed for the emerging netbook market.

Neither Qualcomm nor HP have announced the deal, but Kumar told me at the time that he’s got sources in HP’s Asian supply chain who are vouching that HP’s new netbooks will have “Qualcomm inside.”

Analysts have been closely watching the uptake of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset—both for what it means for Qualcomm’s expansion into smartbooks (as opposed to netbooks) as well as the ramifications that has for Intel’s business. But in his interview with the Union-Tribune, Jacobs minimized the significance of the looming head-on competition between Qualcomm and … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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