SAN DIEGO--The Qualcomm-produced BREW 2004 Developers Conference opened this morning with a keynote address from Dr. Paul Jacobs, executive vice president and president, QUALCOMM Wireless and Internet Group. Jacobs provided a spirited explanation of where the mobile technology player was taking its CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and BREW (Binary Runtime for Wireless) platforms. Jacobs emphasized both the geographic and quantitative growth of CDMA and BREW, running through a number of new mobile operator relationships and upcoming technologies to illustrate Qualcomm's increasing market presence.
Jacobs started the presentation off by outlining Qualcomm's recent past. He reminded attendees that the company was the first to put Internet functionality into wireless handsets when it enabled TCP/IP in its Q-Phone back in 1997, which was well before there was a market for mobile Internet services or even a commercialized Web. "Yesterday's phones were all about voice and SMS (Short Message Service) technologies," he explained, "but today's phones are integrating consumer products--such as the Internet, video game consoles, cameras, phone books, maps, and walkie-talkies--into phones as features." According to Jacobs, Qualcomm is currently working on two new examples of feature integration--a glucose-reading "glucometer phone" for diabetics and phones that can scan bar codes for commercial purposes.
"Cost, size, and power are the most important factors for mobile devices," Jacobs continued, explaining that about half of the microprocessors in many modern handsets are now dedicated to running mobile applications. Jacobs clarified the importance of power consumption in mobiles and then touted Qualcomm's development of a dual-processor solution to save battery life. One processor will be highly power efficient and capable of turning the other dedicated chip on and off, when necessary, to save power.
After a brief discussion of handset technologies, Jacobs detailed the growth in usage of the third-generation CDMA mobile protocol around the world. "2G (second-generation cell phone technology) is giving way to 3G (third-generation cell phone technology) across the globe," said Jacobs, adding that there are now more than 200 million CDMA mobile subscribers globally, of which 110 million are using 3G systems. According to Jacobs, 82 operators in 40 countries are currently providing CDMA services, and if present growth in subscribers continues, the number of CDMA subscribers will be numerically equivalent to that of the GSM service by 2008.
Jacobs then touched on several of the national and regional operators who were enabling this growth in CDMA usage. He started with China Unicom, which has quickly become one of the largest CDMA operators in the world. While China Unicom offers both BREW and Java-enabled handsets to its customers (Java is the Sun Microsystems platform solution for mobile developers and operators), Jacobs said there are now about 400 BREW applications available for download in China.
Jacobs said that CDMA and BREW are expanding into South Korea and Japan, high-speed EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) CDMA networks are making inroads into the South Korean market, and CDMA's market share has grown by 5 percent in Japan over the past year. Brazil's largest operator, Vivo, carries a 45 percent market share in that country, and another CDMA carrier, Reliance, is India's most popular cellular provider. Jacobs further noted that another Indian carrier, Tata, announced its new support of the BREW platform yesterday, bringing the total number of BREW-enabled carriers to 30.
Jacobs then turned to the subject of the EV-DO high-speed CDMA networking protocol, which supports improved data transfer speeds over wireless. "These technology developments are coming from the changes we have to make to make your applications work," Jacobs told the audience of developers, explaining that EV-DO's higher transfer rates would enable better multiplayer gaming, increased multimedia usage, server-side-graphics-rendering assistance, larger applications, and high-resolution maps, among other improvements. Jacobs additionally noted the importance of improving upload speed as well as download speed. "We haven't focused on reverse-link bandwidth in the past, but with camcorder phones and video, we need to," said Jacobs.
Jacobs rounded out his presentation by discussing several ways to make high-speed data service more affordable to the consumer. He outlined multicasting technology as one possibility, which could bring down data transfer costs by sharing multimedia content between multiple handsets. Another idea was segmenting quality of service into different priority levels, where fast-response services for multiplayer gaming would cost more than higher-latency applications, like Web browsing.
Finally, Jacobs briefly mentioned Qualcomm's efforts to bring a so-called "World Phone" to fruition, with omniband support for GSM and CDMA operators all over the world. "Moore's Law allowed us to integrate different air interface technologies into these phones," said Jacobs, "and when they come out, they'll be as seamless as anything." According to Jacobs, there are two such handsets hitting the market in the very near future.