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Qualcomm Aims New Chip at Kids, Old People, and Pets

May 31, 2016, 12:57 PM UTC
Inside The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show
An attendee views the Qualcomm Inc. Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) during the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. The CES trade show, which runs until Jan. 10, is the world's largest annual innovation event, offering an array of entrepreneur-focused exhibits, events, and conference sessions for technology entrepreneurs. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Qualcomm introduced a new low-end mobile chip Tuesday, saying it was for use in more limited smartwatches and other tracking devices aimed at children, the elderly, and pets.

The new Snapdragon 1100 line’s main feature is secure location tracking, though it also includes capabilities to run some apps and connect to Wi-Fi and mobile networks, all while using minimal battery power. That makes the chip best suited for inexpensive and limited-function devices versus the company’s existing 2100 series of chips.

The aim of the new chip line is “making it easier for customers to develop connected wearables with targeted use cases such as kid and elderly tracking,” Anthony Murray, Qualcomm’s senior vice president who oversees the Internet of things business, said in a statement.

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The move marks Qualcomm’s latest foray to crack the wearables segment of the “Internet of things,” the rapidly growing market for connected devices beyond phones that includes everything from watches and fitness trackers to doorbells and air conditioners. Competition is fierce in the fast-growing market as smartphone sales slow—connected devices are expected to grow 15% to 20% per year, reaching 30 billion by 2020, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated.

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Qualcomm (QCOM) is looking for new markets as the company has suffered from slowing global sales of phones and pressure from Chinese regulators to lower its licensing fees, with its stock losing 33% of its value last year. Some investors have also grown concerned that Intel (INTC) is poised to steal away some of Qualcomm’s chip business in Apple’s (AAPL) next iPhone.

But the stock has risen 11% in 2016, as the Chinese situation has improved and other parts of Qualcomm’s business beyond mobile phone chips have picked up.