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Bridging the smartphone gap, from the Great Wall to Taj Mahal

Here in sunny San Diego, it’s easy to lose perspective on the global smartphone adoption rate. Everywhere I look, I see mobile devices being used as nothing short of a sixth sense. From one-off activities like friends checking the weather or a Padres score, or a local store owner running a small business from the palm of their hand, smartphone activity is enveloping our daily lives.

Yet, it’s important to note that not everyone has made the jump. In fact, it’s far from it. Even here in the U.S., the percentage of smartphones only recently crossed the 50 percent barrier. In emerging regions such as China and India, the smartphone share is much lower, but the number of smartphone owners and the overall rates of adoption are higher.

As we analyze these regions exploding with potential, we’re faced with a significant challenge. Smartphone demand is high, but the industry has traditionally lacked the capacity to reduce the time to market in a manner that can meet that desire for low-cost, highly functional devices. The result is that OEMs have been unable to maximize output and profit in emerging regions. Qualcomm is addressing this challenge head-on with the Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) program, which we’re taking to the next level today.

The QRD program allows OEMs to launch products faster and at lower engineering costs, basing their devices off of Qualcomm’s industry-leading Snapdragon S4 mobile processors. The QRD ecosystem includes comprehensive handset development platforms; it also provides access to third-party providers of tested and verified hardware and software components for rapid delivery of commercial high-volume smartphone devices with unique differentiated user experiences. To date, the QRD program has launched 57 products and has collaborated with more than 40 OEMs with approximately 100 devices in the pipeline – all aimed at bridging the gap between feature phones and smartphones in emerging regions.

Today, we’re pleased to announce a relationship with one of the leaders in the Chinese mobile market – Lenovo. We’ve worked together to create two brand new Snapdragon S4 dual-core QRD smartphones, the QRD8225-based Lenovo S686 and QRD8625-based Lenovo A700e. The Lenovo S686 and A700e are created specifically for emerging regions and will be commercially available in China through China Telecom (A700e) and the open market (S686).  The QRD program enabled Lenovo to reduce design costs and get to market just two months after the commercial sample of the QRD8x25 reference design.

Devices such as the Lenovo S686 and Lenovo A700e will serve as a catalyst for regions where consumers’ overwhelming enthusiasm for mobile devices is facilitating the transition from 2G to 3G. This trend benefits everyone – OEMs looking to sell more devices, consumers looking for more premium mobile content and better user experiences, governments looking to benefit from the burgeoning app economy … and the chipset manufactures humbly serving as an enabler to it all.

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