Qualcomm unlocks great opportunity for developers in South Africa & Africa

Qualcomm: AllJoyn, Low Cost phone, Experience

Our mobile phones and tablets are evolving all the time. They are able to preform complex tasks and use less battery than their predecessors.

Part of this evolution is what is going on inside the devices and what moves the instructions around the phone to the various hardware components – this is run by the Processor. This is the brain. This is command unit that runs the show. It is in charge of what to run, when to run it and what is more important.

Recently I met up with James Munn, VP Business Development Qualcomm South Africa. After the Mobile Monday event that Qualcomm sponsored introducing Augmented Reality I wanted to get more insights into Qualcomm.

What I discovered is that Qualcomm is so much more than just a Processor maker. They have very firm aspirations and goals and are ambitiously driving innovation – especially in South Africa and Africa.

I summarise Qualcomm plan into Three Piece Pie:

First Piece: The AllJoyn Framework

AllJoyn™ is an open-source application development framework that enables ad hoc, proximity-based device-to-device communication that is OS agnostic. AllJoyn connects people real-time. Utilizing AllJoyn in your apps offers a host of exciting new user experiences from multi-player gaming and entertainment, to media sharing, productivity tools and social networking.

In simple language, Qualcomm has developed a framework for developers to simply drop into their code a couple of lines and instantly they are able to connect to various devices. Why is this great ? it takes away all the complexity of working out that specific device’s built in connection methodology. AllJoyn just does all the hard work for you.

What does this mean to the non-developer ?

Our world is getting more and more connections. Everything is moving towards being connected to the Internet or the “cloud”. This includes items such as Microwave or Washing Machine or Smart TV and even your car. What AllJoyn does is allow developers to use the connection facility to allow you to interact with your items. For example: just by walking into the house with your phone, your Washing Machine will alert you that it completed its wash cycle. Your Microwave will ask you if you want to switch it on to warm up dinner etc. You will also be able to switch on your TV and you will be asked if you want to carry on watching the movie you started watching on your Tablet. As you move from the lounge to the bedroom the movie will simply follow you and carry on playing on the bedroom TV.

Sounds far fetched ? stuff that is in movies ? Well the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip makes it possible. It not only can preform faster than before but is more intelligent. It has the AllJoyn commands already imprinted in it so it is able to react to them instantaneously. The Snapdragon chip is also able to preform complex operation and yet use less battery power. Seeing as “loss of battery” is the single most cited reason for bad experience on smartphones, this is an amazing feat.

Second Piece: Low cost smartphones

Qualcomm recognises that Africa is not the US and what applies in the Europe of the US doesn’t necessarily apply to Africa. Qualcomm is focusing their attention on getting to the market a cheap, but not rubbish, smartphone that is affordable to the mid/ low end income brackets.

Qualcomm provides manufacturers with a selection of reference designs which allow them to accelerate time to market with well designed low cost devices. So the OEM s take Qualcomm’s ‘blue print’ and build according to Qualcomm prooven design. It cuts down their Research and Development cost by a massive margin and time to market from months to weeks.

The low cost smartphone that I played with is fast, with a touch screen, running Android Ice Scream Sandwich and was full of apps from the Android Play store. The phone is so well made with none of the “saved costs” tell-tell signs of a cheap phone. I had no idea that it was a so called “low end phone” until I was told so.

This is a phone that anyone, regardless of income bracket, would love to own.

Third Piece: Customised Experience

Qualcomm, has a range of phones with varying features and varying price ranges that it sells to all the cellular operators. What Qualcomm is doing is looking to make each phone resonate with its local market. A unique customised experience if you will. For example: In an African country where the price of maize is the most important for farmers, the phone will have a Tile that is updated with the latest price of maize. For another user the personalised experience will be Sunrise and Sunset times. And for another the phone will have a button showing traffic conditions.

Qualcomm’s plan is to have preinstalled apps that are relevant to the local market but only if the local network supports it. No point in having Facebook if there is only GPRS. MXit would be best over Skype.

So in summary:

The main problem for local developers who build a localised application is how to monetise this application.

Imagine being able to present your application to the right people at the cell phone operators around Africa as an application that will be preinstalled on the phone so that user will have it without the need to download it….that’s powerful stuff that Qualcomm can make happen.

Qualcomm’s aim is to have its Three Piece Pie ecosystem so that it can help developers build better apps that “talk” to other devices, is able to deliver manufacturers the right design making low costs phone a reality and it is able to have these awesome apps preinstalled on the phone for best user experience.

Qualcomm is ideally situation to network Developers, OEM, Cell Phone operators. I see bigger things in 2013 with Qualcomm so watch this space !

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