Qualcomm is one of biggest players (if not the biggest) in the mobile chipset space, and their dominance of the market is forcing other manufacturers to seek alternative strategies. While Qualcomm’s huge presence has helped shape the market, a group of Asian companies are looking to form an alliance that will reduce their reliance on Qualcomm’s products and instead develop and rely on their own.
NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, Fujitsu, NEC, and Panasonic Mobile Communications are currently negotiating the possibility of a joint venture that could start operations as early as next year, Reuters reports.
At the heart of their alliance is their need for baseband chipsets. It’s one of the most important components in a phone, as it allows the device to connect and transmit signals to network towers. Qualcomm owns nearly 80% of the baseband market, and this hegemonic hold is exactly what the alliance hopes to break free from.
If their alliance is formalized, NTT DoCoMo will own the majority stake, and the companies will jointly develop their own basebands to be used in each company’s forthcoming smartphones. The development costs will be split up between each company making the burden easier to bear, and should they decide to sell the chipsets to other companies, they all share in the rewards. While most of the companies are based in Japan and are unlikely to release phones using that baseband in the U.S., it’s very possible that the fruits of their labor may soon appear in a Samsung smartphone near you.
At first glance, it looks like a David(s) versus Goliath scenario, but the move seems more about self-sufficiency than to strike at Qualcomm. Who knows though? With enough gumption and their pooled engineering know-how, NTT SamFuNePan may someday give Qualcomm a run for their money.