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Smartphone Manufacturers, Carriers Form Coalition to Reduce Qualcomm’s Dominance



Chip-maker Qualcomm, which has enjoyed dominance in the mobile industry thanks to its early investments in 2G/3G/4G wireless networking, SoC development, mobile processor work, and graphics on mobile architectures, is now attracting unwanted attention upon itself by a coalition of smartphone manufacturers and carriers. Led by Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo, a coalition that includes Fujitsu, Panasonic, NEC, and Panasonic Mobile Communications are forming a joint venture to develop chips with embedded wireless communications and will partner with South Korea-based Samsung.

According to a Reuters report, Qualcomm owns 80 percent of the market of baseband chips. The company’s early work has allowed it to couple the baseband processor, mobile processor, and graphics unit on a single SoC.

The Japanese coalition would decrease reliance on Qualcomm technology and would use chips made by the venture. Additionally, it could also sell those chips to other smartphone manufacturers outside the venture.

Currently, while Samsung develops ARM-based chips–most notably the single-core Hummingbird and dual-core Exynos processors–the company does not combine its mobile CPU/GPU SoC with its own baseband. Instead, it develops these chips and utilizes baseband chips from Qualcomm and others on smartphones. Samsung would rely on the $30 billion in funding to help jump start its baseband development efforts.

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