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Friday, October 26, 2007

Gobi Chipset: Raising the Temperature

Qualcomm yesterday announced a new chipset, the MDM1000 (aka Gobi) which combines broadband modem technology (supporting both EV-DO Rev. A and HSPA) with GPS functionality. This product is aimed squarely at the embedded notebook and promises to be a market changing technology when shipping in 2Q2008.

The inclusion of GPS functionality is I believe a stroke of genius. This will not only generate a new generation of real time mapping applications for the corporate field force integrating with web based applications such as Google Earth, but also offers the potential of providing a new type of laptop security applications for misplaced notebooks or even their users which can phone home with location data.

The endorsement from both Vodafone and Verizon Wireless is noteworthy because the chipset combines their previously incompatible technologies (3GPP & 3GPP2) to no doubt make the different network technologies irrelevant for the end-user. Although roamers are a small part of the broadband notebook market providing a solution which deals with the Vodafone/Verizon roaming issue almost guarantees orders for Qualcomm from the largest players in the corporate market. Economies of Scale play a huge role in the chipset market and therefore I wouldn’t be surprised if Qualcomm is going to dominate this niche market for some time to come with this family of chipsets.

Finally, the chipset provides an early wake up call for those people who have been buying the embedded Wimax story. If people were expecting companies as powerful as Verizon, Vodafone and Qualcomm to roll over and cede market share to new players, especially in the developed markets of USA and Europe, they are basically living in cloud cuckoo land.