Qualcomm Offers Cash Incentives, Broader Support, in Bid to Energize App Developers (and Partners Like Twitter)

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data-casting applications for Qualcomm’s FLO TV, which has been lagging behind in the company’s expectations. While the FLO TV network currently broadcasts only cable TV programs to certain mobile devices, Qualcomm has hinted that its FLO TV technology also could be used to transmit Internet videos and other digital files in data-casts. Jacobs noted during his talk that FLO TV could download the iPad version of Wired magazine, which is reportedly about 500 megabytes, in a fraction of the time that would be required on most wireless networks.

In addition to seeking to energize its development community by offering incentive cash prizes, Qualcomm’s Jacobs also tried to defuse app developers’ past complaints. As Qualcomm’s senior vice president of engineering, Steve Sprigg, explained in a later session, a common complaint among app developers in the past was that Brew APIs (application programming interfaces) were not implemented consistently, and not all APIs were available on all devices. “It means that it’s harder to get apps to market,” Spriggs said. With Brew MP, however, Spriggs says Qualcomm is trying to drive consistency throughout both its hardware and software development, and Jacobs says the company is striving to set standards with device makers on things like memory storage and screen size.

Qualcomm also sought to curry favor with app developers by recently launching an app development website and app store that includes product recommendation technology developed by Qualcomm’s Xiam and Vive, a social networking feature that enables online shoppers to see which apps their friends are recommending. Jacobs said Qualcomm also has worked with Sina, a new apps store in China, to bring Brew MP applications and services to Asian buyers. Such capabilities, Jacobs explained, are intended to help app developers boost their sales by helping buyers find what they want in their online shopping forays.

So far, Brew MP hasn’t proven to be as popular with mobile developers as the iPhone or Android—and Qualcomm clearly has designed the Uplinq conference to make its Brew MP platform more appealing to developers. Yet, as Jacobs explained, Qualcomm now also supports the mobile operating systems for Android, Windows Phone 7, Palm WebOS, and BlackBerry. “So no matter which platform you choose to develop for,” Jacobs said, “Qualcomm has got you covered.” (Well, almost covered.)

Jacobs also emphasized that Qualcomm remains committed to its Brew MP operating system, even if it might be destined for price-sensitive users at the low end of the mobile market. The Qualcomm CEO later told reporters that Brew MP now seems likely to expand into other markets, but even so, he still sees huge opportunities for Brew MP as the operating system of a “smart phone for the masses.”

As an example of how Brew MP’s market could expand, Jacobs introduced Kevin Thau, who oversees mobile strategy, products, and partnerships for Twitter. Thau told the audience that over 50 percent of Twitter’s active users are tweeting from their mobile devices, and so Twitter’s development team “got really excited” by Qualcomm’s concept of developing a low-cost “smart phone for the masses.”

“We decided if you were to marry the Brew mobile platform with Twitter, the ultimate content source for finding out what’s happening in real time,” Thau said, “we thought we could put our resources behind a really compelling application and get that out in the market.”

Tonight, Verizon is hosting a party for the 2,100 people who registered to attend Uplinq. They’re blocking off the streets in San Diego’s downtown gaslamp district—and the headliner band playing is Train.

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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