Qualcomm Technologies Inc, a fully owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc, yesterday said it would launch a new entry-level long-term evolution (LTE) chipset to support 4G mobile communication services in the first half of next year.
The company said the new chipset, Snapdragon 410, will mainly target China and other emerging markets.
To help its clients save on costs and shorten their time to market, the company said it would also launch the Qualcomm reference design (QRD) program for Snapdragon 410 at the same time.
The QRD program is an integrated mobile solution, or a turnkey solution, that Qualcomm first launched three years ago for its Chinese clients.
“The reference design will come out at the same time of the chipset’s [Snapdragon 410] availability. We’re really looking forward to [the launch of] a number of devices with this chipset’s rollout in the first half of 2014,” Qualcomm Technologies vice president Cristiano Amon said on a conference call.
A number of original equipment manufacturing (OEM) service providers are expected to use the company’s new chipset when LTE becomes widespread in China, Amon said.
“We are bringing the Snapdragon 410 to the mass market,” Amon said.
He added that this could drive sales of mobile phones priced between 1,000 yuan and 1,500 yuan (US$165 to US$250) in China.
Snapdragon 410’s launch could coincide with Taiwanese rival MediaTek Inc’s (聯發科) schedule to start mass production of its first LTE chip in the second quarter of next year.
MediaTek, which accounts for nearly half of the smartphone chip market in China, has started initial sampling with its Chinese tier-one customers ahead of its volume production in the second quarter of next year.
MediaTek also plans to launch its quad-core and octa-core LTE chips by the end of next year.
Instead of introducing LTE technology with a premium chipset as MediaTek is doing, Amon said Qualcomm would be ready with a full line of chipsets from entry to medium and premium choices when China commercially launches its LTE service next year.
“China is still in the process of smartphone transition,” Amon said, with users migrating from feature phones to 3G smartphones or affordable 4G phones.
He said China’s transition to LTE would be a big business opportunity for the company. Qualcomm has generated more than US$1 billion in revenue from China when 2G OEMs transited to 3G, he said.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to expand to 4G in China, particularly as a lot of OEMs in China will take the center stage, serving not only the China market for 4G, but a lot of other markets,” Amon said.