SAN JOSE, Calif. Qualcomm Inc. announced Monday it has set up a separate wholly-owned subsidiary to work on open source software for mobile systems. The Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. has a dedicated group of engineers led by Rob Chandhok, senior vice president of software strategy for Qualcomm CDMA Technologies.
"These engineers will focus on such important open source initiatives as Linux and Webkit, and on open source operating systems such as Symbian, Android and Chrome," said Chandhok, president of the new group, in a company statement.
Qualcomm did not say how many engineers it is dedicating to the new group or whether any were new hires. Chandhok was not immediately available for an interview.
The move amounts to Qualcomm's recognition of the rising importance of open source software for a growing variety of mobile systems. Plenty of contenders are hoping to be the interface of tomorrow's mobile access devices including Nokia's Maemo and Symbian to Google's Android and Chrome OS and Intel's Moblin.
Qualcomm has long tried to establish its Brew environment for smart phones, but so far it has gained modest traction. However, Qualcomm's Snapdragon has become the processor of choice for many of the early Android handsets and is one of the contenders for next-generation ARM/Linux-based netbooks.
The company's press release said QuIC will "optimize open source software with Qualcomm technology." That implies Qualcomm will focus on influencing existing open source projects to adopt its technologies rather than create a new mobile distribution as Intel did with Moblin.
"By setting up a subsidiary, the company doesn't disturb the current Brew operations or force it's users into migrating to, say, Android," said Will Strauss, principal of market watcher Forward Concepts (Tempe, Ariz.).
"I know Rob Chandhok, and he's been with the chip-making arm of Qualcomm for only about a year, so he's obviously made a good impression there," he added.