Qualcomm vows commitment
Chipmaker partners Kyobo in e-book reader, talks with Samsung, SKT
By Kim Yoo-chul
Qualcomm is eager to spread its business tentacles in Korea. Its involvement in developing an e-book reader tailored for Korean customers is just a dot in the bigger picture pursued by the San Diego-based chip giant, according to its CEO.
Paul Jacobs, the charismatic Qualcomm chairman, was in Seoul Tuesday to unveil a new digital reader it developed with Kyobo Book Center, the country’s largest book retailer.
The device is the first in the world to include Qualcomm’s Mirasol technology, which is designed to feature vibrant colors in sunlight, thus eliminating a key flaw that has plagued conventional e-book readers.
Jacobs, who also gave the green light to a plan last year to establish a Korea-based research and development center, said the company continues to seek business opportunities with partners here, although declined to comment specifically on the details or cost of projects currently in the pipeline.
Meeting with Korea Communications Commission (KCC) Chairman Choi See-joong earlier in the day, Jacobs expressed intentions to hire more Korean research personnel for developing telecommunications technologies.
He also met with executives from local technology giants Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics and mobile phone operators SK Telecom and KT to discuss mutual business interests.
Jacobs’ visit to Korea comes amid speculation that Samsung, currently the world’s top seller of smartphones, is considering using non-Qualcomm chips in its upcoming smartphones and touch screen tablets to diversify its parts sources.
``Jacobs clearly wants to reaffirm Samsung’s support of its chips and may offer better pricing for handset vendors, which also overlaps with the business interest of wireless carriers,’’ said a Samsung executive, who asked not to be named.
Qualcomm’s technologies and chips remain vital for devices that run on third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G) networks.
Samsung and LG are shifting their focus from 3G-based devices to products that run on 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, which enable faster data movement.
``Jacobs checked out the development phases of tablets and smartphones that use its Snapdragon mobile processors and asked the Koreans for further cooperation,’’ said an SK Telecom official.
Aside of the Mirasol display, Kyobo’s new book reader packs the most advanced technologies Qualcomm currently offer, including its 1-gigahertz Snapdragon processor.
Qualcomm could only hope that its new e-book reader would yield better results than its first Samsung-made entry in the Korean market, which tanked.
``This time will be different because Kyobo will fully manage manufacturing, sales and after-sales (AS) policies,’’ said a spokeswoman from Kyobo.
Qualcomm has been eager to find its next cash-generating sources. Under the basis, it’s been investing heavily for panels. The San Diego-based firm invested more than $1 billion in its latest plant to produce the Mirasol screens.
Jacobs said he is set for operating losses from its Mirasol business because Qualcomm is targeting to put Mirasol on a wider range of electronics in the future, tapping e-readers as it first commercial target.