Qualcomm builds a Plaza full of widgets

By Dan O'Shea

During a press conference yesterday, Qualcomm gave greater detail about how it is further feeding the open mobile Internet frenzy with Plaza, a new framework featuring collected, certified catalogs of mobile widgets-the increasingly-popular thin Internet clients that reside on mobile devices.

BREW and non-BREW carriers alike will be able to present "widget walls" giving users "quicker and easier personalized access to the Internet," while allowing carriers to take the lead in presenting it to them, said Andrew Gilbert, executive vice president and president of QIS/MediaFLO Technologies and Qualcomm Europe. "There are other widget platforms out there, but what makes Plaza different is that Plaza is very purposely focused on the traditional wireless value chain. We're keeping the application evolution in the hands of the companies that know customers the best. Our technology platform aggregates a number of developed widgets so that phones can be pre-loaded with them-the understanding being that the operator has pre-selected the widgets based on user demographics and customer information."

Gilbert said Qualcomm is working with several carriers to determine how those widget walls will be presented. Yet, end users still will have a high degree of choice in the matter as well. "The individual subscriber can add or remove widgets, pulling them from the operator catalog," Gilbert said.

He acknowledged that users could still go off-deck and download other widgets not included in those carrier catalogs. But, they will not have passed Qualcomm's certification muster. "The opportunity here is really to give the operator a trusted widget platform to offer their customers," Gilbert said. "They can take control of their own applications destiny. For the end user, as long as you have a Web browser, you're good to go. This is not tied to a particular SDK."

Also at the press conference, Steve Sprigg, senior vice president of engineering for Qualcomm, offered more details about the new BREW Mobile Platform. Sprigg said BMP helps Qualcomm fulfill its goals of expanding the BREW developer community and pushing advanced capabilities traditionally available only to high-end phones out to mass-market mobile devices. "We've added more APIs and have made BREW more modular and scalable," Sprigg said "We've simplified license agreements for developers and we're providing them with more source code."

Sprigg also said the previously announced teaming of Qualcomm and Adobe will see more BREW resources passed to Adobe developers. "We're bringing two developer communities together, uniting the Web community and the mobile community, bringing millions of developers to hundreds of millions of handsets."