Qualcomm acknowledges that “processor” is an accepted and broadly used generic time period for a variety of merchandise, together with ASICs, CPUs, DSPs, GPUs, MICs, and doubtless not less than just a few others. It additionally admits that we already have a time period to explain microprocessors that combine a variety of performance, together with Wi-Fi, I/O, mobile radios, cache, and reminiscence controllers. We name that an SoC (System on Chip). Nonetheless, Qualcomm not feels that time period is sufficiently big, both. Its argument is below:
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Cell Platform takes our choices past a single chip. Whereas the only processor type issue is really a system-on-a-chip (SoC), housing customized know-how like an built-in modem, CPU, GPU, and DSP, there may be much more happening exterior of the chip that’s designed to finally assist all kinds of gadgets. Applied sciences from the RF Entrance Finish — with out which your cell gadget wouldn’t be capable to purchase a sign, make a cellphone name, or surf the net — to Qualcomm Fast Cost, the Qualcomm Aqstic audio DAC, Wi-Fi (802.11ac and 11advert), contact controllers, and finger print know-how, are all engineered to work along with the SoC to ship a superior and easy person expertise.
With the Snapdragon cell platform we will now articulate the worth that we offer to a tool producer — from growing algorithms for nice photos and movies, to creating positive that the battery is lengthy lasting. Extra importantly, the phrase “platform” will likely be used to elucidate the mixed key person experiences — digicam, connectivity, battery life, safety, immersion — that these important applied sciences are designed to ship. And these experiences usually are not only for smartphones anymore, however are relevant throughout verticals reminiscent of automotive, IoT, and cell PCs.
There’s some precedent for this sort of rebranding effort. When Nvidia launched its Tegra 2 smartphones, it tried to rebrand Tegra merchandise as “super phones” somewhat than the already-common “smartphone.” It was a blatant try to make use of advertising and marketing to place a tool as somehow superior to different smartphones on account of being labeled in a different way, versus truly being higher. It was additionally by no means clear how the branding was purported to scale — if gadgets based mostly on Tegra 2 are “tremendous telephones,” and gadgets based mostly on, Tegra 3 or Tegra 4 are “tremendous tablets,” powered by “tremendous chips,” how did any of this assist prospects make selections about which merchandise to purchase? I’d argue it didn’t.
The opposite instance is from farther again in time. Intel launched its Centrino model in 2003, as an ostensible approach of promising finish customers they’d obtain higher battery life, higher efficiency, and higher wi-fi community connectivity than they might in the event that they used a non-Centrino answer. Centrino-branded techniques all required an Intel processor, chipset, and wi-fi answer.
However whereas there are historic parallels to the present state of affairs, what Qualcomm appears to be going for is far more aggressive. It’s one factor to take CPU and graphics and declare these are important to your product’s worth providing. It’s one other completely to say you’re altering your individual model dialog by together with issues like an RF Entrance Finish, Qualcomm’s Aqstic sound tech, contact controllers, or finger print know-how. Whereas I don’t need these elements to suck, I additionally don’t spend a lot time worrying about whether or not my cellphone packs the newest model of Aqstic. Then the corporate goes additional, claiming that by referencing a “platform,” they’re explaining key person experiences round cameras, connectivity, battery life, safety, and no matter Qualcomm is referring to when it says “immersion.”
An answer to Qualcomm’s antitrust downside, long-term product scaling
I can solely consider two good causes for Qualcomm to make a redefinition like this. First, the corporate has come beneath heavy hearth from antitrust regulators and other companies world wide for its licensing practices and patent royalty charges. Second, we’re reaching a degree of diminishing marginal returns in smartphone efficiency. It’s not as simple because it as soon as was to wave a hand and ship 20-30% improved efficiency year-on-year.
Both approach, by declaring Snapdragon a platform, Qualcomm also can declare to all the time have improved the product, even when the enhancements themselves are marginal. In spite of everything, if you embrace issues like software program and your RF entrance finish within the definition of your “platform,” then you definately’re not often going to expire of how to showcase your improvements to the general public — and also you don’t have to elucidate precisely how this Snapdragon is healthier or totally different than the outdated Snapdragon. Keep in mind, the high-end merchandise are all Snapdragon.
Come to consider it, this does remind me of one other firm — Microsoft, and its “The whole lot is Home windows 10 all the time and endlessly now” place. It wasn’t nice then, and it isn’t nice now. Principally it simply confuses individuals. And with all due respect to Qualcomm, which makes nice merchandise and know-how generally, it’s laborious to see how this transfer is constructive for anybody however the firm’s authorized and advertising and marketing groups. It’s not higher engineering, and it’s not higher for purchasers.