CHIP VENDOR Qualcomm told The INQUIRER that it does not have an exclusive agreement to be the sole chip supplier for Windows Phone 7 (WP7) devices.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip was recently given a makeover by the firm in the hope that device makers, developers and users might be able to distinguish what Qualcomm chip is in their smartphone. Regardless of what model of Snapdragon is under the screen, the chip vendor has had considerable success and the Snapdragon is the reference chip for use in Microsoft's WP7 devices.
With Qualcomm's Snapdragon being the reference design for WP7 handsets, it is understandable to think that Microsoft and Qualcomm have signed a piece of paper ensuring some sort of exclusivity. However Raj Talluri, VP of product management at Qualcomm told The INQUIRER that Qualcomm "does not have an exclusive on WP7", adding that "there is no written exclusive".
According to Talluri the reason why Qualcomm's Snapdragon became the default choice is due to "partners finding Qualcomm's Snapdragon the most compelling solution", rather than any concrete agreement between Microsoft and Qualcomm.
Asked whether Qualcomm's close relationship with Microsoft for WP7 has helped it gain an advantage over other ARM-based vendors when Windows 8 is released, Talluri said, "Qualcomm is working closely with Microsoft to optimise." He also said, "Qualcomm had been chosen for Windows Next [internal product name for Windows 8]." And he added that there had been a "long period of time that has been spent on optimisation". He also expects to see Snapdragon based Windows 8 systems appear, though that's not altogether too surprising given the prevalence of Snapdragon in the smartphone market.
Talluri's admission that there is no written exclusivity between Qualcomm and Microsoft for WP7 opens the door up for rival manufacturers to plant their flags. Back in May chip vendor ST-Ericsson claimed it had been chosen by Nokia for the chips that will power 12 of its Windows Phone devices. Though a similar announcement was made by Qualcomm hours later, it seems Talluri has given further credence to the possibility that ST-Ericsson or other firms might come in and supply device makers that choose to run the Windows Phone operating system.
From Qualcomm's point of view, it wants to show that its chips end up on devices due to their own merits rather than board room dealings. That leads to the question, why haven't Broadcom, Texas Instruments or Samsung been able to compete with Qualcomm? µ