To expand in China, Qualcomm promises white-box smartphone makers help going global

Qualcomm is seriously looking to expand in China. The world’s leading mobile chipset maker is facing heavy competition on that particular market from MediaTek, the Taiwanese chip maker that has always focused on low-cost solutions.

MediaTek’s first quad-core processor is set to debut in shipping smartphones in China over the next few weeks, and Qualcomm is eager to show Chinese ‘white-box’ vendors that its Snapdragon S4 Play MSM8x25Q solutions are great alternatives to the MediaTek MT6589.


Of course we aren’t being told how Qualcomm’s offerings compare to MediaTek’s in terms of pricing, but Qualcomm is doing its best to stress that it’s willing to help Chinese smartphone makers go global – to follow in the footsteps of companies such as Huawei, ZTE, and Lenovo.

Yesterday Qualcomm held a ‘Partner Summit’ in Shenzhen, arguably China’s phone-making capital. Jeff Lorbeck, a Senior Vice President at Qualcomm, was there.

With its QRD (Qualcomm Reference Design), the company wants to assist Chinese companies that have so far only been known inside that country to expand overseas. Apparently, it was stressed that competitors’ chipsets (cough, MediaTek, cough) won’t be seen in places such as North America anytime soon, whereas using Qualcomm’s wares may help Chinese makers get a foothold in such markets.

Google Translate may be tricking us here, but it seems that Qualcomm brought representatives from five major non-Chinese carriers to the Summit yesterday, wanting to stress that it has global reach and has ‘mastered’ the layout and advantages of overseas markets. Obviously, the message here is something along the lines of ‘work with us, and we might be able to score some carrier deals for you’. Alongside that, there’s the promise of the QRD itself: working together to dramatically reduce time-to-market for any new device.

Qualcomm was also boasting that its MSM8x25Q quad-core chipset will soon be used in smartphones from Yulong Coolpad and Tianyu.

As 4G LTE is going to arrive in China in the coming months, that was also a big part of the discussions yesterday. Qualcomm will obviously focus on delivering 4G-capable solutions to the market to be ready for the spread of LTE in China, and apparently it might also be working on a dual-mode TDD/FDD LTE modem for the end of this year (again, unless something’s been lost in translation).

In the meantime, the MSM8930 Snapdragon S4 Plus (with dual-core CPU) is in the works. This will be the first chip to support all of the following network types: UMTS, CDMA, TD-SCDMA, and LTE TDD. So it could be used to power devices that would be compatible with all the Chinese carriers’ 3G networks, as well as China Mobile’s upcoming 4G LTE deployment. This chipset should be seen in shipping devices in the next few months.

Before then, the aforementioned MSM8x25Q family features quad-core CPUs and dual-mode support for both UMTS and CDMA 3G (in the 8625Q part).

The Chinese smartphone market is growing, and growing, and growing. It’s become (by some accounts) the biggest smartphone market on the planet in terms of sales numbers. That, coupled with the fact that most smartphones (regardless of brand) in the world are being made in China has some interesting effects. One of them is the rise of these white-box vendors, previously unknown companies that are starting to make a name for themselves in the mainland. To continue to grow, they’ll soon take international expansion very seriously, which is how Qualcomm hopes to lure them away from MediaTek’s solutions. Let’s see if this plan will work.

Via China Times

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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