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Qualcomm gains Chinese share with reference designs

QRD program now has 40 customers, mainly in China, and powers over 170 commercial devices


Published: 4 April, 2013

READ MORE: China | Qualcomm | Semiconductor | Handset

One of Qualcomm's great challenges is to fend off low cost, but increasingly sophisticated Chinese and Taiwanese competitors like MediaTek and Spreadtrum. It is having some success here, because of its reference design program, which has attracted over 40 OEMs now, 90% of them from China.

In a corporate blog post, SVP of product management, Jeff Lorbeck, said the reference designs, which allow gadgets to be developed in less than 60 days and at low cost, was now powering over 170 devices, mainly lower end handsets. The program has seen Qualcomm taking on the local giants, which have their own reference platform initiatives, at their own game, as MediaTek and others start to impinge on its own smartphone chip territory.

The Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) program has been primarily focused on Chinese vendors, particularly tier one companies like Lenovo and Coolpad, which need to build mass market handsets at lower cost, even while they keep top end smartphone design inhouse and highly differentiated.

There are also QRD OEMs in Brazil, Taiwan, Vietnam and India, Lorbeck told FierceWireless. The platforms are based on the Snapdragon 400 or 200 baseband/processor chipsets, and target devices priced below $150. They often have pre-integrated web or security software. This year, Qualcomm will add support for China Mobile's 4G standard, TD-LTE, to the QRD offering.

Lorbeck wrote on the post: "Some examples from recent months include the Lenovo LePhone A586 and Little Chili LA-M1, which include the Baidu XCloud service that has been optimized for certain Qualcomm Snapdragon processors by Qualcomm Technologies. More recently we saw Yulong launch the Coolpad 5890 and 7268 preloaded with Tencent Mobile Manager antivirus solution which has been optimized for certain Snapdragon S4 processors."

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