MediaTek joins the Open Handset Alliance. An onslaught of cheap Android smartphones to follow?
MediaTek is one of the biggest mobile chipset suppliers to Chinese phone manufacturers. MediaTek’s System-On-a-Chip (SoC) solutions power some of the world’s cheapest phones, which have so far been primarily sold in Mainland China.
However, slowly, but surely, MediaTek is making inroads into the Western markets. First, in November of last year, they signed a patent cross-licensing agreement with Qualcomm, one of the world’s biggest SoC developers.
Having had a troubled past relationship with Qualcomm before that point, MediaTek was largely unable to put its chipsets into phones sold in the very patent-friendly Western world. This happened thanks to the impressive number of patents Qualcomm holds in this field, which it’s known to heavily enforce where it can.
Today marks a new step in MediaTek’s road to developed markets. It has joined the Open Handset Alliance, the Google-led group of chipset and phone manufacturers, mobile network operators and other mobile industry companies, which has the goal of bringing the Android operating system to as many devices in as many markets as possible.
Effectively, MediaTek SoCs can now get official hardware drivers and performance optimizations for Android.
What this will mean in the short term is a possible growth in the use of Android to power some of the phones designed specifically for the Chinese market.
In the long run, though, there is the potential for either big brand manufacturers, or smaller (by number of devices sold) Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei and ZTE to develop and sell extremely affordable Android smartphones in the developed world.
The future seems to be filled with little green robots everywhere.
Anyway, if this does pan out, every consumer has to gain from it, and featurephones may be on the way out a lot sooner than previously thought.