After two years of close collaboration, semiconductor giant Qualcomm and satellite communications company Iridium announced that satellite-based messaging technology will soon make its way to Android smartphones.
Dubbed as “Snapdragon Satellite,” the two-way emergency messaging feature is currently earmarked for premium smartphones running the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 platform, making use of Iridium’s uplink/downlink L-band spectrum.
Snapdragon Satellite is the counterpart of Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite first introduced with the iPhone 14 lineup in US and Canada, followed by France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK.
“Wherever you are in the globe, you have the ability to be connected and send a message to anybody you want. I think it’s about redefining connectivity for Qualcomm Snapdragon to say you are going to be connected, period,” Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said in an interview at CES 2023.
According to Amon, the global smartphone market is currently driven by upgrades and grows organically, but does not grow as a market. While the volume of units are still not on par with pre-pandemic levels, he says that demand will pick up once 5G-Advanced is rolled out.
“We have no shortage on any technology. Other companies still have some shortage, they’re going to be doing better as we go to 2023. There’s now broader recognition that semiconductors are important…there’s this desire now to build capacity in different locations,” he shared.
Beyond smartphone products, Qualcomm has plans to bring Snapdragon Satellite to other devices like laptops, tablets, vehicles, and Internet of Things (IoT). As the ecosystem for this technology expands, OEMs and app developers can create more tailor-fit branded services that take advantage of this capability.
“We are very proud of the company’s diversification strategy and we said correctly we were going to see Qualcomm technology in auto, we’ll see Qualcomm technology in other IoTs,” Amon continued.
Iridium CEO Matt Desch boasts that their network is tailored for Snapdragon Satellite since their LEO satellites already support global coverage, adding that “millions depend on our connections every day, and we look forward to the many millions more connecting through smartphones powered by Snapdragon Satellite.”
During the announcement, Garmin’s outdoor segment expressed its interest in expanding the brand’s proven satellite emergency response services by collaborating with Qualcomm and Iridium once Snapdragon Satellite goes live.
Aside from Snapdragon Satellite, Qualcomm also introduced a new line of processors dedicated to running digital cockpits and advanced driver assistance system workloads for the next generation software-defined vehicles of tomorrow. Snapdragon Ride Flex is set for production next year, 2024.
“Digital is a necessity, and car companies are investing in digital very heavily because that’s the future of the industry and that’s going to define winners and losers. We see the opportunity for semis (semiconductors) in each car to increase faster than growth of the number of cars,” Amon concluded.