SAN DIEGO--Unlike Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) BREW conferences of the past, Uplinq 2011 has a decidedly different feel. The show, which now uses the Uplinq name instead of the BREW moniker, is focused on exposing mobile developers to many of Qualcomm's technologies and helping them create and market apps for the various smartphone operating systems.
In the past, BREW conferences primarily introduced developers to the latest BREW features and highlighted the work of BREW operators worldwide. In fact, at last year's conference, the keynote addresses featured top marketing executives from AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). At the 2011 Uplinq conference, the keynotes are dominated by the top executives at handset manufacturers such as Palm, HTC and Nokia (NYSE:NOK).
Noting the change, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs told reporters at Uplinq that the goal of the conference is to showcase Qualcomm's various technologies--whether it is the company's Snapdragon processing platform, its augmented reality technology, or its Adreno graphics processor. "We want to expose developers to the future," Jacobs said.
But that doesn't mean that BREW--the company's application development platform-is not prevalent at the show. Developers attending Uplinq can still meet with operators that are using BREW in their feature phone portfolio.
Jacobs said that BREW will still have a strong role in emerging markets and other areas where feature phones are still very popular. In fact, Jacobs noted during his keynote address that more than 1 billion BREW devices have shipped since the platform's launch. In addition, in the U.S. market four out of the top 10 mobile devices are BREW devices. Jacobs also noted that analysts estimate that there will be 500 million feature phones in 2015.
Though the conference has changed, that doesn't mean that Qualcomm's partnerships with operators have weakened. Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm Internet Services and senior vice president of strategy at QCT, said that in the past, when delivery of applications and content was dominated by devices preloaded with content set by operators (and facilitated by BREW), the operator channel was very important to developers.
However, now that applications and content are distributed primarily via application stores established by operating systems, the ecosystem has changed and therefore Qualcomm's role in the developer community has changed. "This is a statement about the ecosystem and how it has changed, more than how our relationships have changed," Chandhok said.
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