Qualcomm wants to dispose of it's FloTV service but the Brew operating system is on the up-and-up since the company introduced the Brew Mobile Platform. Peggy Albright reports from
the company's Uplinq developers’ conference in San Diego, California.
As TelecomTV disclosed on Friday last, Qualcomm is trying to define a new strategy for its live mobile television service FloTV. And when the San- Diego, California-based company says "define new strategy" it means anything from acquiring a partner to help operate the business through to an outright sale - or indeed any other ploy that will rid Qualcomm of its unwanted and apparently onerous role as an operator.
However, whilst Qualcomm decides what to do about Flo, it is charging ahead with Brew, which has shown new promise since the company introduced its Brew Mobile Platform and transformed it into a more fully realised OS with a modular and scalable architecture, ecosystem and storefront capabilities designed to bring smartphone features to mass market phones.
The company now counts AT&T and Sprint among its partners in the US, along with long-time supporter, Verizon Wireless.
The Brew Mobile Platform (BMP) is also popular outside the US. Qualcomm's CEO, Paul Jacobs, said that Korea Telecom is back on board with BREW and that China Telecom is now asking its device partners to support BMP. Qualcomm has also partnered with the largest infotainment portal in China, SINA, to create a BMP apps store and developer community to bring BREW applications to the consumer market there.
Jacobs added that Qualcomm will push BMP hard in emerging markets, where feature phones have immense market potential.
What's more, Qualcomm is aggressively courting developers to help it create a compelling universe of applications, and it is drawing on its partners to assist in building general acceptance of the platform and to drive application development.
One such partner is Verizon, whose 56 million Brew device customers account more than 20 per cent of the world's Brew-enabled handsets. Speaking at the Uplinq event, conference John Stratton, the chief marketing officer at Verizon, talked-up Brew’s potential to drive increased consumption of mobile data.
Until comparatively recently, Verizon's experience with Brew was hardly earth-shaking. it's revenues from Brew peaked back in 2007 and today less than 10 per cent of its Brew users engage with apps. Nonetheless, Verizon believes Brew to have considerable potential and so, last summer, it was decided to modernise and revitalise the Brew experience for its feature phone customers. Verizon thus renewed its long-term commitment to Brew for the tens of millions of its customers it expects to continue to use feature phones - even as a portion of that base is expected, in time, to convert to smart phones.
“We need to turn [Brew] into something valuable,” Stratton said. Verizon will have a new shopping client for devices available later this year that will take advantage of the BMP. The carrier is also streamlining its certification processes and substantially reducing developer costs as well as introducing an open catalogue and adopting the Xiam recommendation engine to stimulate discovery whilst also adding micro-transaction facilities to help developers monetise their apps.
AT&T, that has already entralised its feature phone OS strategy around BMP, will use it for almost all of its so-called "value-priced" quick messaging devices, which represent about a third of the handsets it sells. Speaking at the Uplinq conference, David Christopher, CMO for mobility and consumer markets at AT&T, said that although the BMP storefront is not yet "officially" open, developers are welcome to submit apps.
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