One in four of the mobile phones shipped last quarter were smartphones. How does the wireless industry improve on that and eventually kill off the feature phone? Simple really, just make components cheaper. Today Qualcomm announced two new chips, the MSM8625 and MSM8225, that aim to make dual core processors a ubiquitous technology. They’re both clocked at 1 GHz, both have an Adreno 203 GPU, and both have an integrated 3G radio. These chips are also “designed to be hardware and software compatible with the MSM7x27A and MSM7x25A family of chipsets, giving device manufacturers the ability to seamlessly migrate their existing Snapdragon S1-based designs to S4 dual core-based designs”, which we think is code for “stop buying our old busted chips and move on to these new solutions”, but don’t quote us on that.
To make these new chips even more attractive to handset vendors, Qualcomm has also announced their 3rd generation “Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) ecosystem program”, which basically gives companies everything they need to make a smartphone (screen, memory, camera, sensors, etc.) and all the company has to do it design a case to shove it into and add some tweaks to Android so that their device stands out compared to everyone else’s. That’s how mature the smartphone ecosystem is right now, you can literally call up Qualcomm and have them design the guts of your device for you, call up a designer to make a case, and then rent out one of the many sweat shops in China to bring said device to market.
So how much will a smartphone with a MSM8625 or MSM8225 inside cost? Qualcomm doesn’t say (we emailed them), but we’ll assume it’s somewhere in the sub 200 Euro ($265) range. That’s the magical “mainstream” price point where nothing really looks expensive anymore. Sub $200 is another story all together, but that’ll come in due time.