Can Qualcomm Compete As Smartphones Become Computers?

Our mobile devices are getting smarter, faster and mimicking the functionality of a full-fledged PC. As the top wireless chipmaker, Qualcomm has long been the “Intel inside” for mobile phones. But can it compete against a host of new processors with better graphics and more performance?

Mobile World Congress: Don’t Call It a Phone Show

Over the last few years Mobile World Congress, the mobile phone industry trade show, has experienced a shift from being about mobile phones to being about always-on connectivity. Mobile broadband has changed the value of the mobile ecosystem and thus the players who care about it.

Marvell to Make Future Phones Run Faster

Marvell Technology said today that it’s figured out a way to deliver the first-ever quad-core ARM-based application processor for cell phones and other mobile devices. More cores equals more performance — Marvell says its quad-core ARM chips will deliver “gigahertz-plus” performance.

Viva La Wi-Fi!

Wi-Fi was hot last year and it’s only getting hotter in 2010 as the availability of personal hotspots such as the Mi-Fi and the rise of the Direct Wi-Fi standard mean that putting a Wi-Fi chip in anything makes the device more useful.

Ubuntu 9.10 Arrives With Cloud Storage, Better 3G Connectivity

ubuntu_oneHas it been a full release cycle for Ubuntu already? It seems like only yesterday that we saw a jackalope jaunting by, but that was back in April. Now it’s time for Karmic Koala, which is the endearing name for the just released, final version of 9.10. I’m still re-running a Windows 7 netbook battery testwithout Aero, this time — so I’m not ready to run Ubuntu 9.10 yet. I’ve got a download going for the Live CD, so while I wait for the software and my hardware, I’m perusing the press release and release notes for Karmic Koala. A few key updates look pretty handy:

  • Ubuntu One integration — Much like Dropbox and other online storage or sync solutions, Ubuntu One offers a place to stash your data. Every Ubuntu user gets a free 2GB account and the service is natively integrated within the Ubuntu file system, making it pretty seamless.
  • Improved 3G connectivity — I’ll have to try this to better understand what exactly has been improved, but this is key for mobile folks.
  • New Software Center — One-stop shopping for software is always nice, especially when there’s a button for Free Software as well. This takes the place of Add/Remove in the Applications menu.
  • New Kernel Mode Setting — By default on Intel hardware, this “reduces boot-time flickering and dramatically speeds up suspend/resume.”

Has anyone installed this — or the new Netbook Remix Edition — and been wowed by any other new features?

Live-Streaming Grief: Saying Goodbye to Michael Jackson

[show=michaeljackson size=large]I’ve always been of the belief that a memorial service is not for the person who passed away, but for those left behind. Which is why I don’t think there’s anything wrong with today’s epic celebration of Michael Jackson’s life and work; it’s been almost two weeks since his passing, and even if you think you’re over it, millions of people aren’t.

Like any memorial service, this one was full of complicated but heartfelt emotion. There were moments that genuinely felt like the best sort of memorial, such as Berry Gordy’s speech, full of recollections about family baseball games and 10-year-old Michael out-Smokey-ing Smokey Robinson. “It was magic,” he said of seeing the Moonwalk for the first time. And Brooke Shields, who was actually a friend, made me tear up when she talked about Jackson laughing.

If you were wondering why this memorial was two hours long, that’s because everyone got a voice — Al Sharpton busted some rhymes before telling Jackson’s children that “there was nothing strange about your daddy; it was strange what your daddy had to deal with.” Queen Latifah acknowledged the 16,000 fans gathered in Staples Center, speaking to them as their representative and reflecting on her first Jackson 5 album purchase before reading an original poem for the occasion written by Maya Angelou. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee reminded us that just because Jackson dealt with many allegations of child abuse during his lifetime, he was innocent until proven guilty — then revealed House Resolution No. 166 to honor Jackson as an American hero. The feed cut to the Jackson brothers, who seemed genuinely moved. That was a nice moment. Read More about Live-Streaming Grief: Saying Goodbye to Michael Jackson

After CDMA, Qualcomm Looks for New Money Machines

Qualcomm's mirasol MEMS

Qualcomm's mirasol MEMS

Qualcomm (s qcom) today announced the opening of a factory to make its mirasol displays, and a Wi-Fi chip designed for home networking — both efforts to keep the company a top chipmaker even as carriers migrate from the CDMA technology that provides so much of its profits. CDMA royalties aren’t going to disappear anytime soon, but Qualcomm needs to find new markets for its chips that don’t ride the 3G wireless gravy train. Hence, its push into mobile television with MediaFLO, the creation of its Gobi platform, displays and now, home networking. Read More about After CDMA, Qualcomm Looks for New Money Machines

WiGig Alliance to Push 6 Gbps Wireless in the Home

wigigA group of big-name technology companies including Intel (s INTC), Dell (s DELL), Broadcom (s BRCM) and Marvell (s MRVL) have joined together to promote a new wireless standard that could deliver between 1 gigabit per second to 6 Gbps inside the home. Chipmaking startup Wilocity is also part of the effort.

The Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) Alliance plans to use the 60 GHz spectrum, already in use for other types of high-data-rate wireless transmissions, for a variety of functions such as replacing the HDMI cable between a TV and a computer. Other options include delivering wireless gaming and home storage networking. The specification for the standard should be set by the end of this year, and devices containing the chips could be sold as early as 2010. Read More about WiGig Alliance to Push 6 Gbps Wireless in the Home

Chipmakers Hope Widgets Bring the Web to TV

chumby_logo_text90Broadcom (s BRCM) said today that it would make sure content from Chumby, a nascent widget syndication effort for televisions, would run on its chips. It’s one of a handful of integration deals Broadcom has inked with software vendors to port their content to its chips. As broadband reaches more devices, deals between chipmakers and software vendors like these are becoming increasingly important.

For anyone who recalls the Chumby as a countertop device for accessing widgets, you’re thinking of the right company. It’s merely joining a growing pack of those looking expand its efforts beyond hardware to become a platform. In January it signed a similar integration deal with Marvell (s MRVL) to get its widget platform onto digital picture frames.

Such heightened integration efforts are a natural outgrowth of adding broadband to phones, TVs, set-top boxes or even picture frames, because when you add broadband, you add the Internet. And as the mobile world has shown, no one wants a bastardized version of a “mobile web” or a “TV web;” they want the real deal. So that means the chips powering these devices need to be smarter, and have the right software to deliver a web-like experience on a screen that doesn’t belong to the PC. Read More about Chipmakers Hope Widgets Bring the Web to TV

Broadcom Enables Cheaper Android Phones

androidlogoIntegration is the theme of the day today, with Broadcom (s BRCM) announcing that the Android operating system will run on its multiradio chip, which offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM radio. It also announced open access to those drivers, allowing developers to play with the functionality offered by the chips and (hopefully) create new applications.

The move will serve to boost the Android platform, because now instead of three radios taking up space on small devices, a handset manufacturer will only need one — which means smaller and less expensive devices will be able to run on it. Read More about Broadcom Enables Cheaper Android Phones