Could this be the end of HTC’s exclusive use of Qualcomm chips? In a recent interview of HTC’s VP of Marketing with GSMArena, he said there’s actually “no exclusive deal” between HTC and Qualcomm, and when asked what other chips they could use, he said “Nvidia or TI-powered smartphones and tablets are possible in the future.”
Qualcomm have done very well for themselves with the rise of touchscreen smartphones. They managed to grab TI’s longstanding leadership position, which happened with the rise of Android and the fall of Nokia and RIM (who mainly used TI chips).
But perhaps the biggest reason Qualcomm got this position is because of HTC’s reluctance (or loyalty) to use anything else but Qualcomm chips. This has led to HTC dropping a little in mindshare lately, because their devices are no longer the “most powerful”. This is why, in 2012, we might see HTC start using chips like the Nvidia Kal-El.
Even if they don’t admit it, the fact of the matter is that they did give Qualcomm and exclusive deal. But I’m sure the exclusivity they gave to Qualcomm also helped them in many ways. After all, Qualcomm was the first with a 1 Ghz ARM processor, ever since late 2009 in the LG eXpo, but it wasn’t until early 2010 when it first appeared in an Android smartphone, the Google Nexus One (built by HTC), and then soon after that in the slightly different HTC Desire, which has been one of HTC’s most popular devices to date.
One of most obvious shortcomings of the popular Qualcomm chip, Snapdragon, was its weak GPU – the Adreno 200. This became obvious just half a year later when the Samsung Hummingbird appeared in Galaxy S, which had a 2-3x faster GPU. Even Adreno 200’s successor, the Adreno 205, couldn’t do much to beat Hummingbird’s PowerVR SGX540 GPU, falling behind in most tests, and only matching it in a few.
Then in 2011, we had the dual core Tegra 2, which was much delayed, coming out about 5 months before any dual core chip from Qualcomm. Even Samsung’s Exynos which was also 1 month late, arrived almost 2 months before the dual core 1.2 Ghz Snapdragon that came with HTC Evo 3D and HTC Sensation. Not to mention both Exynos’ CPU and especially the GPU are faster than what the dual core Snapragon has.
Plus, Samsung has always adopted a more flexible strategy of using other companies’ chips. If another company makes a more powerful chip than theirs, they won’t be afraid to use it. I could see how if they don’t manage to make their own quad core Exynos, or at least a dual core 2.5 Ghz Exynos chip, in time for Galaxy S III, they would use Nvidia’s Kal-El or even Kal-El+ chip (depending on launch date).
So if HTC is finally going to use other companies’ chips, that’s a great move for them, because they will show they put the customers first, not their partners. If their partners can’t be competitive anymore, that would mean HTC won’t be competitive anymore either, and they’d have to offer their customers sub-par technology. But this way, they’d have the flexibility to use the best of the best cutting edge tech, to make their products some of the best on the market.
What kind of chips would you like HTC to use in the future?