Qualcomm Aims At Fastest Growing Phone Markets

March 20, 2017, 12:37 PM UTC
A man checks his cell phone in front of the Taj Mahal. The
TAJ MAHAL, AGRA, UTTAR PRADESH STATE, INDIA - 2014/11/04: A man checks his cell phone in front of the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Construction was completed around 1653. (Photo by Thierry Falise/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Photograph by Thierry Falise — LightRocket via Getty Images

With smartphone growth tapped out in many developed countries, the biggest opportunities remaining are in markets where consumers have considerably less disposable income. Qualcomm moved Monday to address this next wave with a renewed chipset for lower-end smartphones.

Dubbed the 205 Mobile Platform, the chips will allow less expensive smartphones and even feature phones to connect to 4G LTE networks, which are just spreading in places like Brazil and India. Unlike Qualcomm’s top-end chips, which can reach speeds of over 1 gigabit per second on 4G networks, the 205 chips top out at 150 megabits per second. The platform will also include other lower-end capabilities like support for 3-megapixel cameras.

“India and the Southeast Asia regions present growth opportunities in the telecom space with 4G adoption rising and continued adoption of feature phones,” Jim Cathey, president of Qualcomm Asia Pacific and India, said in a statement.

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Worldwide, smartphone sales increased only 2% last year but grew much faster in many developing markets. India’s market was hit by the country’s demonetization policy to reduce the use of cash at the end of last year, but analysts at JP Morgan forecast its smartphone sales will expand 15% this year. Growth will be fueled in part by upstart carrier Jio, which grew to more than 100 million users last year and aims to reach 400 million as soon as possible.

The new Qualcomm (QCOM) chips, introduced at an event in New Dehli on Monday, are available to phone makers immediately and should be included in new phones as soon as the second quarter, Qualcomm said. The chips also include support for making calls over Wi-Fi, high-definition video streaming, and having two SIM cards in one phone.

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