For a little more than a week, a string of announcements have come from
about its new platform for delivering fun and games through cell phones.
Yesterday, it was
announcing a partnership on the new platform. Today's announcement had
, which delivers music and video via the Web, developing new applications for Qualcomm's binary runtime environment for wireless, known by the more pronounceable acronym of BREW.
Today, after announcing it was working with Qualcomm to develop music applications for cell phones, Launch closed higher, up 56 cents, or 40.1% to $1.94. MP3.com closed unchanged at $4.31. Qualcomm fell slightly, finishing lower by $1.88, or 2.2%, to $84.75.
It's largely about corralling convergence on behalf of the code division multiple access or CDMA technology that Qualcomm pioneered for cell phones. Besides propelling PC-centric content into the future of mobile device convergence, Qualcomm is looking to its own future.
While CDMA is the dominant technology in the U.S. wireless market, it has captured only about 20% of the phones worldwide, compared with more than 65% for the rival GSM standard.
Launching BREW will build a stable of software makers that will develop applications for the new platform, making CDMA a more attractive standard for cell-phone makers. It won't be limited to Qualcomm's proprietary technology, either. Qualcomm CEO Richard Sulpizio said today that BREW will run on CDMA chipsets made by other companies.
"With a developer base, it creates an incentive for phone makers to use your chipset, said analyst Greg Teets of
. "Plus, they will get something of a royalty. Every time you use BREW in some commercial application, then Qualcomm will get a kickback."
It's a time-proven concept. It's an axiom in the video game industry that consoles will sell only if they have a wide variety of games to play on them. Qualcomm is helping ensure that there will be plenty of applications for CDMA phones.
As the speed of the wireless network increases, so will the features. When the much-anticipated third generation wireless network evolves, it will bring speeds that match today's broadband networks. And that will bring more involved programming, pushing together the functions of cell phones, PCs and PDAs. "In the future, you'll get on the Stairmaster and watch a movie with eyeglass screens," said analyst Phil Leigh of
The importance of convergent-ready content has not been lost on wireless makers and service providers.
already has invested in a private company making cell-phone-based entertainment. Leading cell phone maker
provides developers with kits for making Web access protocol or WAP pages.
a joint venture of
already offer over-the-phone games for wireless customers.