Qualcomm signs major carriers and retailers for Always Connected PC launch

Subject: Mobile | February 21, 2018 - 11:10 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon, qualcomm, microsoft, always connected pc

With availability scheduled to begin next month, Qualcomm is prepping for its final push to prepare the market for what it believes is a revolutionary product category for the PC market. Just before the mobile media and analysts focus attention on Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, Qualcomm hopes it has completed the final step in the launch of its “Windows 10 on Snapdragon” line. Partners like Amazon, the Microsoft Stores, Verizon, and AT&T will provide the cellular LTE connections to maintain an always-connected state and the retail and online locations to purchase them.

By combining Windows 10 and the company’s Snapdragon mobile platform with efficiency and connectivity advantages other PC chip vendors can’t match, Qualcomm is hoping that its creation of this new sub-category of PC that focuses on being always connected through a smartphone-like cellular connection will pay dividends. Compared to Intel processors that target similar form factors of notebook PCs including 2-in-1s and detachable tablets, the Qualcomm chips differentiate by including the capability for LTE connectivity on every design, without having to pay an upgrade cost.

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The ability for a Qualcomm-powered Windows 10 PC to have an “instant on” button to turn on the screen without a boot or wake-from-sleep process, again in the same way your smartphone works today, is another touted feature. Battery life is the other tent pole, with Qualcomm often citing disingenuous battery life estimates on Intel-powered systems but “beyond all day” battery life for its own.

Getting these Qualcomm-chip Windows notebooks into the market might seem like a trivial task but inserting a new totally new product category into retail and e-tail takes careful management. Qualcomm will have to educate consumers on how its platform is different and what advantages it can offer over other laptops. Retailers will have to undertake most of that education process, as the customer will need guidance to avoid costly returns and support calls.

The added complexity of a cellular connection will mean that some kind of registration process will have to occur before the PC is truly “always connected.” It will need to be added to a data plan on an existing carrier agreement (think adding a new phone to your cell account) or through a pre-paid arrangement.

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A touchier subject surrounds the retail channel and how PCs are sold in today’s market. Despite the years of legal disputes and resolutions, most in the industry still view Intel as wielding incredible power in the retail and online e-tail sales channels. Through practices like rebates, education programs, and sales clerk discounts, it can be hard for a new player to battle the incumbent without a similar amount of marketing muscle and dollars behind them. Even AMD, with years of practice selling its own processors and systems, struggles at time to get the attention and retail shelf space its products deserve.

In the US market, Microsoft will be taking the helm at the retail channel, stocking and selling the three first Qualcomm Snapdragon Windows 10 PCs from HP, Lenovo, and ASUS. Though the quantity of Microsoft stores is limited, placement here is a big win for Qualcomm and its partners. The Microsoft Stores are generally considered the presentation point for the flagship Windows devices, indicating that Microsoft itself puts a lot of weight behind the category that Qualcomm is creating.

For the online markets, Amazon will be the primary location in the US for sales. In talks with Qualcomm executives, it appears that the online giant will be handling a lot of that education and cellular activation. While I am certain that Qualcomm would love to have had a nationwide brick-and-mortar retailer like Best Buy in the mix, the Minneapolis-based company did not buy in.

Qualcomm has other retailers lined up across the globe, including in Australia, Italy, France, and the UK. China will have sales through JD.com, one of the largest online retailers in the world with more than 266M active users. Qualcomm still has many regions to address with availability and wider distribution as the second wave of PCs comes to market in the holiday of 2018, but it believes it has a solid start under its belt.

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Graphic Source: TechSpot

Operator support is just as crucial for Qualcomm’s new PC category as retail availability. If a consumer buys a device but isn’t offered service from a mobile telecommunications provider along with it, much of the appeal of the device is lost. Carriers in the UK, Italy, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, and US (including all four major players Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile), will begin offering plans for the Windows 10 on Snapdragon PCs. Details of what the specific costs will be aren’t being shared and will vary for each carrier.

Affordability of these plans will be critical to the mass market success of the Always Connected PC. Consumers will not pay exorbitant amounts of money to add a device to their existing cell phone plan but providers may be hesitant to offer discounts for a platform that inherently will have potential for greater data consumption. Users on smartphones often get lower resolution video or web pages because of the smaller screen size. But these full capability PCs will likely stream full resolution content and could create additional strain on the networks.

Source: Qualcomm

February 21, 2018 | 12:04 PM - Posted by collie

This is exciting news, i always felt that always connected laptops were on the way, i just thought it would be chrome os.

However im wondering about price. How much is that win 10 license gona bloat the price, how much data is gonna be eaten by windows being windows, are they actualy going to make affordable devices or are they gona go slim lightweight mac book clones that are sleek expensive and super fragile?

My gut tells me ill be priced out of this one, 'specially with the insane cost of mobile in canada.

We shall see

February 21, 2018 | 08:45 PM - Posted by Meacha

I had thought that Google would have made their mixed android and Chrome OS by now, so I definitely would have thought Google would try to make the big push with their software first. Who knows maybe biding their time is the intelligent move. Let Microsoft take the risks and make the mistakes first and see what the real users of this platform actually want.

February 21, 2018 | 06:26 PM - Posted by AllThatLegacyTatNeedsSomeMicrocodeLoveAlso (not verified)

Qualcomm needs a custom ARM core that is as wide order suerscalar as the Samsung Exynos M3 and look at the Aanadtech article on that Samsung M3! It is as wide order superscalar as the Apple A series designs and the M3 has a fatter middle and back end also. The M3 looks like a desktop x86 design but the M3 still lacks SMT capability.

Windows 10 for ARM still is missing some ability and those 3 wide narrow order superscalar cores will just not be as performant. AMD needs to keep their eye on thees developments and Keep that Custom K12, ARMv8A ISA running, core's blueprints(Verilog and other digital blueprints) handy just in case. That Samsung M3 is going to be damn nice once the benchmarks are known.

(1)

"The Samsung Exynos M3 - 6-wide Decode With 50%+ IPC Increase
by Andrei Frumusanu on January 23, 2018 1:30 PM EST"

https://www.anandtech.com/show/12361/samsung-exynos-m3-architecture

February 22, 2018 | 06:51 AM - Posted by willmore

Between the prices of these devices and the limitations of Windows on ARM, the value of these devices will be way less than they're proposing.

These are just uninsprired chromebook clones with an inferior OS.

February 22, 2018 | 10:44 AM - Posted by collie

Never underestimate the value of familiarity with.... i wana call them "normals" in the tek world.

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