Qualcomm Enables Laptops with LBS

By Joe Francica

As of June 2007, Qualcomm had over 300 million gpsOne chipsets running on cellular phones offered by over 50 carriers already in the market. gpsOne is Qualcomm's location-enabled solution for mobile device manufactures. As such, Qualcomm has built location technology into phones and other devices that may or may not already run location-based applications. For operators or application developers, there is no need to source a new cellular phone component to deploy a location-enabled application. Qualcomm phones are ready to use. It was a business decision made by the company when it acquired SnapTrack in 2000. But now that the market is just taking off for LBS applications, what's next for one of the pioneers in this market?

It's called Gobi (Go - Be). Gobi is a chipset and reference design for notebook computer manufacturers to build a module that incorporates many types of cellular technologies like Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Wideband CDMA (WCDMA), or General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), which allows the consumer to not only choose what carrier he will subscribe to but provide a location-aware computer. Those buying laptops can pick the wireless carrier and the plan they want. Then, as they travel, consumers will be able to access cellular communications and location-enabled searching wherever and whenever, similar to today's wireless cards from the carriers.

As a recent article in Forbes stated, "Even if you don't care for the name, the idea should appeal to you. You will be able to purchase a notebook computer with embedded wireless broadband (and a global positioning system, GPS), and no matter where you are in the world (with the exception of Japan, for now), you can turn it on, register on a network and have instant access to wireless broadband Internet… According to numbers I am hearing, notebook companies really like selling notebooks with wide-area broadband wireless, because the amount of money they make from the activation is more than they make for selling five notebooks. If this is correct, it doesn't take a math wizard to understand that having a single radio module that works virtually anywhere means notebook vendors can build a single model of a product and ship it anywhere in the world, knowing it can be activated on any of today's commercial networks."

GPS is on the Gobi chipset. "Having location awareness in 3g or 4g mode is very exciting," said Greg Raleigh, vice president of product management for Qualcomm's QTC division. "[Gobi] runs in GPS or A-GPS mode, has a software object code included in reference design…a well defined API, and an open environment for software developers which can license the API from Qualcomm." Both the carrier's certification program and reference design is ongoing. Access to cellular communications and location determination makes Gobi a compelling and relatively simple integration solution for OEMs. This also presents enterprises with less confusion when looking for laptops with the freedom to choose a preferred carrier in addition to the availability of LBS applications. Expect to see OEM notebooks with Gobi on the market in Q2 2008.

Published Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Written by Joe Francica

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