The News: At IFA 2019, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, announced their plans to accelerate 5G global commercialization at scale by expanding its portfolio of 5G mobile platforms across the Snapdragon 8 Series, 7 Series and 6 Series in 2020. With over 150 5G designs launched or in development to date using the Company’s 5G solutions, Qualcomm Technologies is driving the proliferation of 5G across multiple tiers to make the next-generation of camera, video, AI and gaming experiences more broadly available. This expanded portfolio rollout aims to support features and frequency bands globally and has the potential to make 5G accessible to more than 2 billion smartphone users. Read the full release from Qualcomm’s Press Center.
Analyst Take: Qualcomm is off to a very fast start at this year’s IFA event as the company looks to set itself apart from global competition as the leader in 5G technology that will drive the next generation of connectivity into the hands of more users.
The announcements from this week’s events are around the company’s ambitions to democratize 5G in the near-term by expanding its Snapdragon 6 and 7 series solutions to support 5G along with the already well documented 8 series that has been a big winner in early 5G adoption.
Impressive Speed To Market
With every new generation of technology, speed to market matters. The expectation is that 5G will roll out faster than the G’s before it. These announcements clearly show Qualcomm’s global leadership in developing systems that will enable the next generation of experiences offered by 5G including camera, video, AI and gaming more broadly available.
We’ve spoken a lot about not all 5G being created equal and this announcement covers an important aspect of 5G’s inherent variety. The launch of the 7 and 6 series Snapdragon processors supporting 5G, in addition to the ultra-premium 8 series will enable 5G on a global scale taking into account both mmWave and Sub 6 frequencies including multi-mode, spectrum sharing, NSA and SA.
RF, being an important piece of the 5G puzzle is also being handled with its RF-Front End System that enables global band support.
Brining 5G Beyond The Ultra-Premium Device
2019 was expected to be a year where some small number of devices would begin support 5G. This announcement, which included Qualcomm pulling forward commercial availability of the 7 series 5G platform during Q4 of 2019. This means device makers can likely market general availability to mid-tier 5G devices toward the holidays with momentum picking up immediately in 2020.
Beyond the near term, there wasn’t a lot of consensus as to just how quickly 5G could find itself into broader device portfolios. With smartphones greater than $1,000.00 attracting a limited audience, the launch of mid-tier system support could mean more devices in the $300-$700 range supporting 5G causing an explosion in adoption. Estimates suggest this could make 5G accessible to as many as 2 Billion users in 2020.
Also, on the topic of accessibility, Qualcomm’s 5G capabilities could provide an interesting approach to delivering high speed internet in rural communities through fixed 5G capabilities. This serves as a highly valuable, albeit understated benefit that 5G offers.
Market Support From Key Players
If there is any question as to how excited the device makers are about the Snapdragon 6 and 7 series support for 5G. Here is a list of some of the key players already committed to designing around the platform
- HMD Global
*Samsung uses Qualcomm 5G Snapdragon in premium tier devices such as the S10+ 5G and Note10 5G
What about Competition?
At this point, Qualcomm is the first and only to bring out a true mid-tier solution for 5G. Huawei’s Kirin 980 and its upcoming 990, while being positioned as a premium tier system, but at this time it doesn’t support global launches on both sub 6 and mmWave. Additionally, Huawei’s 990 may seem impressive when it is launched, but Qualcomm will surely outmatch it with its new Snapdragon 865.
In short, Qualcomm is now poised to own the mid-tier, while continuing to lead at the premium level as well.
Qualcomm continues to push the envelope on 5G and the launch of 5G support for the 6 and 7 series in 2020 is also an accelerator as it will have a tremendous impact on the adoption of 5G by users outside of those purchasing ultra-premium tier smartphones.
With this announcement, Qualcomm instantly leaps ahead of Huawei. The support of Sub 6 and mmWave alone is a unique differentiator that should cement Qualcomm into current and future designs by leading handset makers around the globe.
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Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.