qualcomm

The Nokia-Microsoft partnership is still dominating headlines this morning as more information keeps coming out. Evidently, during negotiations with Microsoft, one of the critical issues Nokia was focused on was reaching "a very low price point", according to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, this position was agreed upon:

"We have become convinced that we can do that very quickly"

As we mentioned earlier, Nokia produces nearly 1 million phones a day due to their huge infrastructure and production lines. With Microsoft tapping into that, it seems easier for them to lower prices on phones to the carriers--something that smaller OEMs might not be able to match. Either way, consumers look to win.

One method of doing this is going beyond Qualcomm for their chipsets. Qualcomm was named by Microsoft as their primary chip provider for Windows Phone, but now we're getting news that Microsoft is looking beyond the company for other alternatives (NVIDIA , Texas Instruments, ST-Ericsson and Ericsson come to mind). That should be especially good for Nokia who have had a rocky relationship with Qualcomm, with the latter owning the CDMA market (even though both agreed to work together last year).

Looks like there will be lots of changes to the Windows Phone landscape come late 2011 as fallout form the Nokia partnership continues.

Source: Reuters, the Inquirer.net; additional info: IntoMobile

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Over at Gamasutra, they had an nice interview with Kevin Unangst, Microsoft's senior director of PC and mobile gaming, and Brian Seitz, senior marketing manager for Windows Phone 7.

The topic was gaming and there were a few interesting bits of information, the first found in this blog's headline:

We're partnering really closely with Qualcomm so they're going to be the chip of choice... It will be a good experience with developers," says Brian Seitz, senior marketing manager for Windows Phone 7.

Some much for nVidia's Tegra2 or ARM Cortex A8 /"Hummingbird", eh?

Other things which we're sort of already knew:

  • Two tiers for games: more professional Xbox Live Arcade and regular Marketplace games; the former is exceptional quality with high standards, the latter anyone can develop on. This also means you won't need an XBLA account to play all games on WP7
  • Microsoft helps set the prices for games; trying to avoid 'race to the bottom' for pricing to protect developer's interests
  • Tiered pricing for games, like the Xbox console
  • ...it's just the beginning of what we're going to do with multiplayer."
  • "...this can be a great alternative to the DS and PSP, as much as we think [it can be to] the iPhone and the Droid"

Interesting stuff, though we're a little uneasy with the Qualcomm thing as..well, lets not bring up the past. We're curious to see if any hardware vendor will use non-Qualcomm chipsets, guess we'll have to wait and see.

Read more here.

 

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Not only is the HTC HD2 large in stature — we're still knocked over by that 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen — it's got game under the hood. Benchmark tests of the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor reportedly clocked in at at least a 300 percent improvement over the Touch HD and its Qualcomm MSM7201 processor running at 528MHz. And another test showed an improvement of 1,822 percent. Between this and Nvidia's Tegra processor, the future is now, people. The future is now.

wmpoweruser (currently down) via Engadget Mobile

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We've talked about the differences between aGPS and GPS before, but we can now add another form of aGPS to the bunch: QuickGPS

QuickGPS is from Qualcomm (technically called gpsOneXTRA Assistance) and is an Internet-based form of aGPS or offline aGPS whereby your device, once a week, downloads a data file that has all the ephemeris data contained (file = packedephemeris.ee).  This data is good for 7 days and helps calculate your position faster without the need for an Internet connection at the moment of initiation (ala network-based aGPS).  "Cold starts" go from a minute or more to just seconds. Very cool.

HTC has been incorporating this into some of its devices lately (e.g. Touch Pro) and Palm has it on the GSM Treo Pro.  HTC calls it QuickGPS as it made a nice app to initiate the system (see above photo). 

But as usual, some of us were not invited to the party (e.g. Sprint Mogul, Touch, etc.) and the community has effectively taken matters into their own hands, hacking this onto various devices.  The latest is the Sprint/Alltel Treo Pro and we have to admit, it works like a charm. 

So if you want to join in and speed up your GPS system, feel free to browse those threads!  And remember: back up before you do so!  This also may not work on all devices--if you get "QuickGPS.exe' cannot be opened. Either it is not signed with a trusted certificate, or one of its components cannot be found. If the problem persists, try reinstalling or restoring this file." that would be you, sorry.

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Once upon a time there were two processor manufactuers: Qualcomm and Broadcom. Qualcomm made some chips that looked a little too much like Broadcom's and the two stopped being BFFs, making everyone sad. In fact, Broadcom was so upset, it took Qualcomm to court and accused it of patent infringement.

This went on in and out of weeks and almost over three years. At one point, a mean ol' federal judge said Qualcomm couldn't sell its processors anymore, but the cagey lawyers found a way around that, and another judge said a ban just wasn't fair, and some of your favorite smartphones continue to be powered by Qualcomm.

Fast forward to today, and everyone's kissed and made up. OK, being paid $891 million would make me kiss and make up with just about anyone, too. And that's just what's been done, with the two manufacturers finally reaching an agreement in the case and agreeing to put down their swords, says Engadget. Full deets after the jump, but we're going to spend the rest of the afternoon coming to terms with the fact that it's over. It's really over.

For now.

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Having to live with Qualcomm's MSM series of chipsets for so long, it's nice to see the next-gen series (Snapdragon) finally strut its stuff. To refresh your memory, basically these systems are running 1ghz processors, can do HD graphics (720p), "day-long battery life" and have more advanced GPS and wireless connetivity (read more here)

Though we've seen it running that ho-hum custom Today screen on the Toshiba TG01, it seems that at MWC a few weeks ago a much more in-depth graphics demo was given.  We have to say, it's looking very promising so far.

Basically, from a non-technical perspective, it looks like we'll be having Sony PSP-level graphics on our super-thin (10mm) WinMo phones in late 2009/2010, which we're really stoked about. Advanced lighting, shading & translucency? Yes please.

Check out the 3 min demonstration of Qualcomm's Snapdragon after the jump! You don't wanna miss.

Mobilna Technologia [via]

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While there have been rumblings that HTC and Qualcomm aren't quite the BFFs they used to be, Digitimes is reporting [via] that HTC is going to stick with the chipmaker at least long enough to push out a device sporting the snappy Snapdragon processor. The Snapdragon, as you may recall, is probably the most exciting thing about that Toshiba TG01 -- because as we said yesterday during the podcast, the custom interface leaves much to be desired. Also, that TG01 may not even make it to the states anyway.

Back to HTC, the device is apparently set for the 2nd quarter of 2009, which means it's anybody's guess as to whether or not they'll deign to show it off at MWC09. Also anybody's guess, which device in the massive HTC 2009 line-up leak we're looking at here. We figure it could actually be more than one, but a proc like the Snapdragon would be a good fit for a media-centric device like the above-pictured Whitestone W

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What do you do when you're one of the biggest GSM chip makers out there and one of your sweethearts -- HTC in this case -- starts looking elsewhere (say, nVidia)? Well you you throw on the old spice cologne, get a hair cut, and start acquiring AMD's graphics and multimedia technology assets to improve what you've got.

Qualcomm is hoping this move will provide better 2D and 3D graphics features, as well as better audio/video and display support. This drastic make over wasn't cheap.  Qualcomm is dishing out $65 million to AMD for these assets and offering employment  to AMD employees that were involved in the new technologies. We were starting to suspect that Qualcomm was letting itself go (so to speak), so hopefully laying out this cash  for the proverbial face lift and gym membership will get 'em back in shape.

[via phonescoop]

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WMExperts Podcast, Episode 1!

What'd we tell you earlier? Stay Tuned, right? Here's what's for: the WMExperts Podcast! Here's the deal: we'll be on every week, usually on Thursdays. We'll alternate every week between a short, 5-minute device focus / review (next week: Sprint Touch) and a longer, news and tips-focused podcast. The shorter podcasts will be hosted by Dieter Bohn, the longer ones will feature Malatasta (and also some guests, later on, if they'll lower themselves to talk to us).

Alright, so how do you get the sucker?

Be sure to email us -- podcast@wmexperts.com -- we want to talk about what you want to hear about.

What's the news on this podcast? Read on for the show notes

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Samsung to Develop Own LTE and WiMAX Chips

Samsung apparently isn't fond of dealing with Qualcomm's patent hassles anymore, or perhaps they've been spooked by how difficult it is to write video drivers for Qualcomm's chipsets, or perhaps they just don't like Qualcomm's LTE roadmap, or maybe it's just the stated reason from EETimes [via mobile burn]: they're unhappy with how much the royalties cost.

Whatever the reason, it looks like Samsung is going it alone for the chips that power their phone, opting to develop them in-house instead of using Qualcomm or Broadcom chips. It also appears that LG may follow suit.

While we're generally happy to see more competition, we do have a bit of a concern about compatibility and standards here. Sure, Samsung will likely drive down costs and speed up development of their handsets with this move. We just hope that Samsung, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Infineon, and the other players in this 4G chips space can agree on some common standards that will make life easier for other shops that can't make their own chips and also easier for carriers to approve handsets more quickly. The last thing we want is redux of the all-out patent war we have been witnessing with the 3G chipsets.

What say you? Smart move by Samsung?

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Qualcomm all about LTE now

Qualcomm wants to stay ahead of the game or at least with the changing times and as a result they have decided to cancel development of Ultra Mobile Broadband products and focus on LTE instead. Long Term Evolution will be playing a major part in the way we use our mobile devices in the future to feed our internet needs. Big guns like AT&T and Verizon have already joined the club.

Sampling for the new multi-mode chips are already in action meaning we might see some devices, if not the network itseof, in 2009. Slap these new chips in some hot devices coupled with a 20 Meg connection and you have yourself one powerful combination. The future looks bright for our mobile devices and with WiMAX coming in, we might just have broadband speeds on our mobiles sooner than we thought. Great job Qualcomm. Guess this means that it's time to start agitating for 5G, innit?

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Federal Court Vacates Qualcomm Ban

We avoided the last turning of the Qualcomm vs. Broadcom screw because, well, it's just becoming so darn tiring. If you missed that last month, what happened is a US Appeals court affirmed that Qualcomm infringed on two Broadcomm patents and therefore needed to pay up [via Engadget]. These were related to EVDO, QChat, and video processing. Now leave that stewing in the back of your mind.

In the front of your mind, recall that we had ourselves a little panic last year as courts told Qualcomm they weren't allowed to import certain chips into the US. This was pretty bad, but Verizon decided to pony up licensing fees so they could continue to use the chips, Sprint tried to insert themselves into the conversation, and President Bush declined to stop the International Trade Commission's (ITC) ban.

All clear? Good -- Next up, from Patently-O: the ITC's decision has been vacated by a Federal Circuit court because the original ITC decision didn't find “inducement of infringement” and also found that the ITC didn't really have the authority to exclude imports in the exact method that they used. In short, the Qualcomm chip ban has been lifted (for now)

The upshot is that Broadcom still can collect the damages you read about in the first paragraph, the ban you read about in the second paragraph has been lifted, but the court finding in the third paragraph can probably be appealed and the ban reinstated at some future date. ...and you were starting to suspect that patent lawsuits were adding uncertainty to the marketplace -- for shame!

Thanks to Dave for the tip!

(p.s. The above has nothing to do with the US not getting the Touch HD. Seriously, everybody, you have to let that one go and dream of the 'other cool stuff.')

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(img adapted from Cyphol's original)

We here at WMExperts write this with due amount of trepidation, humility, and a willingness to admit we are completely in over our heads on the technical aspects of what we're about to discuss, but here goes:

It appears that the Touch Diamond and the Touch Pro have some issues with regard to GPS. Namely -- many users are reporting a significant lag -- not in satellite acquisition, but in the actual reporting of your position as you move. On these devices, GPS often (but not always) seem to be several seconds behind on reporting your position. While a lag of several seconds (or more) doesn't sound like much, it is pretty much a deal-breaker when you're attempting to use GPS for driving or biking directions.

Missed turns aren't fun, so read on for more.

Folks over at XDA-Developers are reporting/discussing GPS lag issues with both the HTC Touch Diamond and HTC Touch Pro. Additionally, at PPCGeeks we read that certain software on the CDMA Touch Diamond on Sprint sometimes lags. Here's what the the situation looks like right now: GPS lags of up to several seconds are being reported for different people, across several different GPS apps, and in different parts of the world.

As we've said before and at-length here at WMExperts, these sorts of issues are often very difficult to pin down as they lie at the intersection of different kinds of chip hardware, processing power, drivers, software, antennae, and the like.  In fact, all of the above have been posited and tested as possible causes. Adding insult to diagnostic injury, some report fixes based on radio or ROM updates while others don't.

Based on some of the discussion over at XDA, it does look like HTC may be aware of a problem and is looking into it.

Both the Diamond and the Touch Pro utilize the Qualcomm MSM7201a chipset, leading us to worry just a teensy little bit that we're looking at a redux of that other complicated issue involving HTC, Qualcomm, software, drivers, and graphical performance. We're not going to go there quite yet, though, since GPS on smartphones is notoriously difficult to get right and even more notoriously dependent on localized circumstances like location, installed software, the day, the weather, building interference, and heck, we don't know, the phases of the moon.

The Treo Pro, for example, shares the same Qualcomm MSM7201a chipset with the Touch Diamond and the Touch Pro and we have even floated the idea that it was not only manufactured but designed by HTC. In our own Windows Mobile Forums we are now seeing reports of unduly long acquisition times and GPS drops that vary by software. The Treo Pro does seem to have differing performance depending on which app you use it with, as this roundabout solution to getting it to work faster in Windows Live Search details. We haven't run across any Treo Pro users reporting GPS lag, however.

If nothing else, it's becoming clear that something is going on here. The number of reports from users who clearly know their stuff when it comes to smartphones appears to have risen above the level of sporadic GPS problems. In fact, users in the XDA threads have reported that their GPS lag problems vanish when they use an external bluetooth GPS receiver.

What we need now are more datapoints. Have you ever experienced GPS lag? We are talking the kind where your position is well behind where if should be, not simply long acquisition times. If you've had GPS lag, what smartphone and what software are you using?

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Sorry, Mr. Block, Motorola has decided to take their handset business in another direction. To wit: they've named Sanjay Jha their next CEO of their mobile devices business, he'll serve as Co-CEO with Greg Brown. Jha, we assume, reads email directly on the computer (unlike, according to rumors, his Co-CEO), as he's formerly of Qualcomm. There's a tiny twinge of irony here since Motorola recently ditched Qualcomm chipsets in favor of Texas Instruments. Then again, given Jha's Qualcomm roots, one could be forgiven for secretly hoping for Motorola devices powered by Snapdragon (Jha's understandably fond of the platform).

Jha headed up Qualcomm's CDMA technologies unit - which we take to generally be a good sign for Motorola if only because he will probably have experience navigating US law after all that 3G chip ban and patent fight craziness that went down last year.

Eventually, if all goes according to plan, Jha will be a CEO minus that “Co-” part, as Motorola still plans on spinning off their handset division into a separate company.

Good luck to you, Dr. Sanjay Jha. As I mentioned on my appearance on the T4 show last night, the Motorola Q9h is still my favorite smartphone of the past year or so; I still believe Moto has the chops to release another favorite. In the meantime, we wouldn't complain if you cleared up the mysterious disappearance of the Sprint Q9c.

Read: Cellular News

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For awhile now we've been covering the whole "HTC/Qualcomm Video driver drama" (read our insider Q&A for some perspective and more here).

So far we know that the unbranded HTC TyTN II (aka "Tilt") is getting WM 6.1 with a video performance boost, but no gurantees that the AT&T branded version will be getting the same. We also know that the HTC Touch Diamond, which is a powerful VGA device, does have the DirectDraw video drivers on board, though up until recently they too have underperformed.

The big question was whether the lot of other HTC devices that are based on the MSM-7xxx series chipset would be getting any help from HTC? So far, the answer appears to be "no".

Enter some crafty hackers and dedicated software pros to start piecing together bits and pieces from the TyTN II, Touch Diamond and the K620 and have a somewhat working version of the OpenGL ES driver, which according to the HTCClassAction.org site:

...provides the DirectDraw (2D) capability; so getting the OpenGL ES driver to work correctly is a big step in getting the D3D and DD working.

As you can see from their demo video, the tester app flickers during the test, but that is a result of a problem with the tester program, not the OpenGL drivers. But this proof-of-concept demonstration definitely hints that exporting and enabling these advanced video driver capabilities is possible.

Click the link to watch the the OpenGL ES Driver in action!

We'll continue to follow this story as usual!

Via Tilt Site

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Looks like Qualcomm isn't so good at not talking about future products. This morning they were chatting up a new mini laptop they were awfully proud of -- running on Linux, clocking in at around $299, and definitely meant as competition for the EEE PC (and manufactured by Inventec, if you must know). However, during the conversation, the chipmaker hinted that Linux might not be the ideal OS for the platform. In fact, Qualcomm says Windows Mobile 7 key for mini-laptops:

Microsoft Windows Mobile 7, which is made for chips used in mobile phones, will be more laptop friendly than older versions of Windows Mobile, said Luis Pineda, senior vice president at Qualcomm, on the sidelines of a news conference in Taipei.

So to round up the Windows Mobile 7 rumors so far: we hear it will support waving your hand in front of it (you know, gestures), we know it will be radically

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HTC Advantage 7510: Lawyered Out of the US

Remember what Malatesta told you during last week's podcast? He told you that Qualcomm has been having a rough time here in the US lately. Add another data point to that trend as it turns out that their excellent chipset that's running the updated HTC Advantage 7510 isn't allowed for sale in the US. We're relatively sure this is part of their ongoing struggles with Broadcom, but don't hold us to that as we're neither lawyers nor do we aspire to be.

It's a real pity, too, because although we do think that that the Advantage has one of the weirdest niches in in the Windows Mobile world -- somewhere between a subnotebook and a proper smartphone -- the thought just occurred to us that this thing would be stupendous as a dashboard computer for our automobiles. Goodbye silly car stereo, hello über-connected mp3-gps-internet radio-WiFi WiFi bridge wundermachine. Ford Sync's got nuthin on this.

jkOnTheRun [via BGR]

Update: The real tragedy here? Matt Miller tells us the Advantage 7510 comes pre-loaded with Opera Mobile 9.5 as the default browser. I'm thinking we breaking out the pitchforks and torches and head over to the patent office. Who's with me?!

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HTC Video Software Update Still Planned

Amongst the many sagas we keep track of here at WMExperts, few are as contentious and difficult to follow as the HTC Video Driver issue. It's been awhile since we covered this, so before we get to the latest piece of news in the now-month-long delay in a promised software fix, we feel like we ought to present the history of this torrid affair.

Read on for the skinny!

History

Several HTC devices (most notable the AT&T Tilt / TYTN II) have a significant delay in both rotating the screen and in video playback. Some hardy investigators determined that the Qualcomm chip inside these devices has on-board hardware acceleration for video, but the devices did not have the necessary drivers to take advantage of it. HTC's initial response was, many thought,

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HTC To Deliver Video Improvements After All?

You know about the so-called “missing driver” controversy on HTC devices utilizing Qualcomm chips, you've read our exclusive Insider Q&A and learned that the situation is not as clear as you might have thought, and now you're a regular visitor to http://HTCClassAction.org, whose updates page tells us this:

A response from Peter Chou himself (CEO of HTC) has surfaced saying they hope to release a driver at the end of March. [...] According to Fudzilla, Dr. Florian Seiche, vice president of HTC Europe, stated “Video acceleration drivers for HTC devices will see the light of the day”

...Then you dared to dream, just a little bit, that HTC's official “sorry folks” response might have just been a smoke screen, a white lie to buy some time for HTC to deliver unto us video drivers that would turn our devices into God Machines, tiny extensions of SkyNet in the palms of our hands, displaying Omnimax quality at 240x320.

If so, then we have three things to say to you. 1. Time to start taking your meds again. 2. Yes, it's true, a fix might be coming, but 3. According to Engadget Mobile, it's not technically going to be a video driver. Instead, look forward to enhancements to the already existing software stacks that should hopefully speeds things up a bit.

That's really not too surprising given the fractious issues brought up in the Q&A: Video drivers are difficult to develop and just as difficult to implement -- if HTC can get us a quick fix and then move on to doing the next device right, that might have to be good enough. Better that than spend 6 months spending too many resources on current generation tech.

Or are we going too easy on HTC? What say you?

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