Qualcomm might not make a dedicated wearables chip after all

'We are in the first inning'

Mini glasses

When it comes to wearables, there's been a question mark lingering above Qualcomm's head for a while: will it actually make a dedicated wearables chip?

Qualcomm itself doesn't seem to have a definite answer, but going by its remarks an event in San Francisco this week, it's unlikely to happen any time soon.

"This is not a space where we do a chip, throw it over a wall and let it happen," said Pankaj Kedia, Senior director of Qualcomm's smart wearables segment. "It's the wrong way to think about it: do I leverage a phone chip or do I want to do my own chip?

"The right way to think of it is, what kind of user experience do I want to deliver here?". Kedia's point was that the wearables category is much broader than smartphones. Smartglasses will have higher GPU and camera demands than a watch; a 3G-enabled wearable will have different needs to one that requires a phone connection.

Why limit yourself?

Qualcomm has used its chips in many of the Android Wear devices to date, but for the time being it makes more sense to offer manufacturers the choice of chip from its existing portfolio rather than produce its own 'wearable'-labelled offering.

As Kedia put it, this is the "first inning" of wearables. People are testing the waters, trying ideas and discovering what works and what doesn't.

It makes sense for Qualcomm to be as accommodating as possible to as broad a range of ideas and their technological requirements right now, and possibly for the long term. A dedicated chip is not the way to do that.

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