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Android Google Operating Systems Software Hardware Technology

A Lack of Alternatives To Qualcomm Is Hurting the Ecosystem (androidauthority.com) 73

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Android Authority: Smartphone enthusiasts are probably eagerly awaiting the arrival of Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 835 SoC, which was unveiled back at the beginning of January. However, recent revelations suggest that consumers could be in for an unexpected wait, and we're unlikely to see an alternative manufacturer step in to fill the void given the current market conditions. The report claiming that LG G6 won't ship with the latest Snapdragon 835 flagship SoC is looking like bad luck for LG and a blow to consumers looking to spend their cash on the latest mobile technology. If true, this is also likely to have an impact on sales, as consumers hold out for better technology released in just a few months time. It's not only LG facing this prospect though, HTC, Sony, and all the other manufacturers that typically make announcements early in the year look to be facing a situation where they will be using the same processor as last year for early 2017 models. This scenario is unprecedented in modern Android history. The past few years have seen manufacturers kick start the year with flagship releases packing new processing technology. Unfortunately for these OEMs, there aren't any competing processors to use as a direct alternative to the delayed Snapdragon 835. The choice is then either to launch with an older technology or delay their product until the 835 is ready. While many will focus on performance stagnation, using the same chip also means that handsets are bound by the same feature sets, and so camera, video, virtual reality, and other capabilities won't be moving on either. Samsung's Exynos and HiSilicon's Kirin series are the closest SoCs to the 821 and 835 in terms of performance and features, but these are primarily reserved for their maker's own flagships and aren't rolled off the production line in anything close to enough numbers to meet global demand. This situation is a bit of a catch-22, with manufacturers unlikely to buy up expensive foundry lines without a strong indication that OEMs will use their products, while a lack of availability means major releases can't pick up these chips.
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A Lack of Alternatives To Qualcomm Is Hurting the Ecosystem

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  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @09:16AM (#53747777)

    If you want to break Qualcomm. Shut off CDMA. Any manufacturer can make a GSM Phone. CDMA is Patent controlled by QualComm.The issue is; alot of USians that are on CDMA Networks, don't know they are on CDMA Networks.

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @09:51AM (#53747907) Homepage Journal
      Qualcomm has patents on virtually all modern mobile phone standards. In any case, you're missing the point: the issue isn't that people want to see Qualcomm punished, it's that they're unhappy and believe the industry is being held back by the dominance of one supplier.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Qualcomm has patents on virtually all modern mobile phone standards. In any case, you're missing the point: the issue isn't that people want to see Qualcomm punished, it's that they're unhappy and believe the industry is being held back by the dominance of one supplier.

        But is the industry really being held back all that much? Compare today's newest phones to phones from just two or three years ago.

        Given that, I fail to see how anyone can state Qualcomm's dominance is "holding the industry back".

        The only "holding back" that Qualcomm's market share seems to be doing is preventing the likes of Apple and Samsung from making even more money off their phones. AKA sour grapes.

        • Oh the problems we have here in America. It's like living in the dark ages over here. I am sure that Trump will solve this problem for us and make everything great again.

          • Oh the problems we have here in America. It's like living in the dark ages over here. I am sure that Trump will solve this problem for us and make everything great again.

            The only good phone is a land line and the phone should be made out of bakelite!

            Now GET OFF MY LAWN!

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          But is the industry really being held back all that much? Compare today's newest phones to phones from just two or three years ago.

          Given that, I fail to see how anyone can state Qualcomm's dominance is "holding the industry back".

          The only "holding back" that Qualcomm's market share seems to be doing is preventing the likes of Apple and Samsung from making even more money off their phones. AKA sour grapes.

          Easy - if you want the best modem chipsets around, they're from Qualcomm. No other modem manufacturer ha

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      LTE is CDMA. just a newer version of CDMA.

      you're thinking of CDMA 2000 which Verizon is still using for voice, but the newer versions are just called LTE and part of the worldwide standard

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        LTE is not CDMA, it is OFDMA. You are confusing it with its predecessor HSDPA, which was based on W-CDMA signalling.

  • I don't have much sympathy for this current state of affairs. Consumers voted with their dollars, Qualcomm delivered, and firms that integrate Qualcomm products into their flagship devices developed no fall-back. With such a piece of technology fraught with so many singe points of failure, it was just a matter of time before the ecosystem collapsed.

    I'm interested to see what the latest lawsuit against Qualcomm will do for the ecosystem, too.
    • The point is that there is NO fallback available due to patent abuse.

      • Except the "patent abuse" aspect is wholly separate from the the "lack of alternatives" argument.

        Instead of spending the money to innovate *in house*, firms went with a ready-made solution from Qualcomm. Sure, that's a reasonable option, but you can't make that choice then complain that Qualcomm's your only source. Don't like the mousetrap? Build a better mousetrap. If the patent dimension is holding back the industry, then why isn't the industry calling for Qualcomm to be broken? Clearly, there's
  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @09:28AM (#53747805)

    The vast majority of people are just looking at the brand name, interface, memory and user-facing features when shipping at a phone. If they spare any thought at all for the CPU, it's just a vague sense of satisfaction that the CPU running at a faster clock speed or has more cores than their current phone.

    If the new phones are released with the same CPU as the current generation, nobody will give a shit and the people who were going to buy them will still buy them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It seems Microsoft has suspended their continuum platform until the 835 comes online.

      If it gives users smooth experience you can expect to see companies switching to Continuum compatible phones for their staff.

      So in that case, people may actually shop for the cpu.

    • The vast majority of people are just looking at the brand name, interface, memory and user-facing features when shipping at a phone.

      You're right that consumers don't know or care who made their SoC. But manufacturers have to choose something, and what they choose has a huge impact on what they can offer consumers. Right now, in the upper end of the mobile phone market there is basically no competition to Qualcomm which means phone makers don't have any realistic options. That's bad, and I completely agree that it hurts the ecosystem. Competition is good, lack of competition is bad.

      In the mid and lower tiers there's lots of competition

      • Well, both Apple and Samsung make their own SoCs that are as good or better than what Qualcomm puts out, but they don't sell them to third parties and keep them for their own devices. Outside of Samsung, no one else is making any money with Android (outside of perhaps some of the Chinese manufacturers who are selling low-end products and can live on those margins) and there isn't enough consumer demand for high-end SoCs to get any company to invest the billions of dollars it would require to design and manu
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Where is the IBM PC of the mobile world? When will enterprising developers be able to program these mobile computers with as much freedom as they had during the burgeoning era of personal computers?

    The ecosystem is hurting, because it is being denied the process of evolution by variation and selection; walled gardens, government-granted monopolies, government-induced backdoors, etc., are all leading to a stagnant wasteland of mediocre, purposely broken solutions to problems that nobody has, and a lack of so

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Where is the IBM PC of the PC world these days? You can't even change boot loaders on modern EFI laptops without being OEM sanctified.

      It's the same old corporate capitalist race to the bottom.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @10:14AM (#53747999)

      The IBM PC may have been good for the PC industry, but it sure wasn't good for IBM. Hardly surprising other manufacturers are not looking to repeat that mistake.

      • Are you really sure the alternative would have been *better* for IBM? IBM would have sold proprietary POWER machines instead to the same people who bought cheap PCs? And would have actually generated more revenue? The economy would have been boosted equally by more expensive, less open machines? The same economy that generates money for people to buy IBM software and services these days? Hypotheticals are fun, but it's a domino effect you have to deal with.
    • Except you can, for the most part, root most phones out there, write your own blob and upload it to the phone (speaking specifically to Android, here).

      What aspects of a phone are DIY users locked out of? Proprietary baseband stuff, but that's necessary to ensure your phone works as a phone. Other than that, you can do whatever you want within the ecosystem of the device. The only thing stopping you is the extent to which you want to violate the warranty on the phone.
  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday January 27, 2017 @09:49AM (#53747899) Homepage Journal

    or more accurately, unrealistic expectations. Or marketing.

    Qualcomm announced the 835 when? LG announced the G6 when?

    Did anyone believe that LG would be able ship the G6 a month after the chipset was announced...?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    your phone will still work. Stop trying to make Qualcomm out as the single factor with which the whole smartphone market stands and falls with. Their products are replacable.

  • So the App designers can invent new and creative ways to phone home with my datas

  • Think of the shame of it! Buying a brand new 'flagship' phone, only to realise it's got an old processor in it, used in the previous model. You never know for sure it's not even a pre-owned processor, and no one buying a £700 phone wants anything pre-owned about it. That CPU might have been extracted from some chav's phone and used to send instagram pictures of his willy to his chewing-gum consuming girlfriend.

    Is it just me, or is this some 'not-news'? Buy a phone that does what you want it to, not on

  • Why doesn't Samsung do more with its Exynos processor and become a much bigger competitor to Qualcomm?

I haven't lost my mind -- it's backed up on tape somewhere.

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