Qualcomm hasn’t neglected the smartwatch space. It has launched the Toq watch late last year and the Mirasol display driven watch is quite nice. The company is actually one of the smartwatch pioneers. We can call Toq a first generation wristwatch that runs on an unnamed 200MHz Cortex M3 based processor, naturally from Qualcomm.
A few months back we talked to Rob Chandhok, Senior Vice President at Qualcomm Technologies and President of Qualcomm Interactive Platforms and we heard that Toq is besically a proof-of-concept. Qualcomm wanted to show to the world what could be done with present day tech.
Qualcomm is selling its smartwatch directly to customers, but the long term strategy is to sell chips to the other smartwatch manufacturers. The next step is to get into the Android Wear platform, as it has potential to become a very popular platform in this emerging market.
Android Wear will make a difference
We cannot confirm whether or not Qualcomm chips found their way into the Moto 360 or other Android Wear designs, but it would be a nice win. The Moto 360 should land at a quite attractive $249 price point and we think that $249 or $199 is a realistic price for high-end smartwatches. The same price tactic that was used by Samsung with its Galaxy Gear smartwatches and of course by Qualcomm with Toq. It looks like the sweet spot.
Mediatek is one of the competitors to watch out for. The company has announced its Aster ARM7 wearable platform that is being described by EEtimes as “the smallest SoC” with highest integration for wearable devices. The Aster resides in a tiny 5.4 x 6 mm package, it has has Bluetooth 4.0/Bluetooth Low Energy, power management IC, and memory (4 Mbytes of Flash and 4 Mbytes of SRAM) and at the same time it can target devices that will cost as low as $50.
Qualcomm has a wearable chip in the works
This is not the market that Qualcomm wants to target, as $199+ smartwatches can offer more performance, power and make a bit more money. Qualcomm CDMA Technologies Taiwan president Eddie Chang has mentioned that Qualcomm has been working on a wearable chip that is about to go into mass production soon. He didn’t mention any specific devices, but he promises that there will be devices shipping based on Qualcomm wearable chips later this year.
One can only assume that Qualcomm will win some Android Wear devices, but the competition in this segment has proven to be very fierce, as there are dozens of manufacturers fighting for this emerging market. Some big names including Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics, companies that don’t make much noise in the phone market are hoping to be big players in the wearable market. STMicroelectronics is already inside the Fitbit wristband, which is quite a popular device in this market.