Home Mobile Qualcomm and Iridium end Snapdragon Satellite because of one key factor

Qualcomm and Iridium end Snapdragon Satellite because of one key factor

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Qualcomm and Iridium end the partnership that resulted in Snapdragon Satellite

Announced last year one day after Huawei unveiled a similar feature for its Mate 50 series, Emergency SOS via Satellite allows someone with a compatible iPhone model to report an emergency even in areas where there is no cellular connectivity. The iPhone screen helps show the user where to position the device to connect with a satellite; information about the emergency is texted to emergency services who dispatch first responders. The feature has already been credited with saving some lives.

Snapdragon Satellite was set to work with Iridum’s satellite constellation and both Qualcomm and Iridium have announced the end of their partnership starting on December 3rd. This action effectively ends Snapdragon Satellite, at least for now. In its press release, Iridium notes that the decision to end the partnership is due to one huge factor: no business. As the satellite firm wrote, “The companies successfully developed and demonstrated the technology; however, notwithstanding this technical success, smartphone manufacturers have not included the technology in their devices.”

Where this leaves Samsung is unclear. Last month, John Yong-In Park, head of Samsung Electronics SLSI Business Division, said during the 2023 Semiconductor Expo (SEDEX) keynote that 2024 Samsung Galaxy phones will offer satellite connectivity. He did not mention any specific models, but it was believed that the Galaxy S24 line might be Samsung’s first phones to offer emergency satellite connectivity.

Android manufacturers are expected to turn to standards-based solutions to create a new satellite-to-phone platform

Iridium CEO Iridium Matt Desch, talking about the end of his firm’s partnership with Qualcomm, said, “While I’m disappointed that this partnership didn’t bear immediate fruit, we believe the direction of the industry is clear toward increased satellite connectivity in consumer devices. Led by Apple today, MNOs and device manufacturers still plan, over time, to provide their customers with expanded coverage and new satellite-based features, and our global coverage and regulatory certainty make us well suited to be a key player in this emerging market. User experience will be critical to their success, and we’ve proven that we can provide a reliable, global capability to mobile users.”

Qualcomm also commented by stating that the lack of Snapdragon Satellite to sign a deal with any Android manufacturers “indicated a preference towards standards-based solutions” to be used to support smartphone-to-satellite connectivity. “We expect to continue to collaborate with Iridium on standards-based solutions while discontinuing efforts on the proprietary solution that was introduced earlier this year,” Qualcomm said.

With a standards-based solution, several companies could get together to create the technology to allow Android handsets to offer emergency satellite connectivity.
As we noted earlier in the story, Huawei last year became the first phone manufacturer to offer satellite connectivity for emergencies and beat out Apple by one day. This year, the new Mate 60 line reportedly offers users the opportunity to make satellite calls using the new flagship phones. This could be considered an improvement over the technology used by Apple which is limited to text-based communications.

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