Iridium and Qualcomm's satellite messaging agreements terminated
Iridium Communications, a provider of global personal satellite communications, has announced the regrettable termination of its relationship with Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of QUALCOMM Incorporated.
In January this year, Iridium revealed that it entered into agreements with Qualcomm to enable satellite messaging and emergency services in smartphones powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Mobile Platforms. The Snapdragon Satellite solution was supported by the fully operational Iridium satellite constellation.
As opposed to selecting a single smartphone manufacturer, Iridium’s collaboration with Qualcomm was aimed at supporting satellite services in a variety of smartphone brands, with the potential to expand to other consumer devices in the future. Snapdragon Satellite-equipped smartphones would be capable of accessing global coverage, sending emergency messages and texting with friends and family from anywhere on the planet with a view of open sky.
“While some have been expecting we would be integrating our system into a specific smartphone, what we’ve done is so much bigger,” said Matt Desch, Iridium’s CEO, at the time. “Working with a mobile technology leader such as Qualcomm Technologies and their powerful Snapdragon platforms allows Iridium to serve the smartphone industry horizontally — and offers us an opportunity to enable other consumer and vehicular applications in the future.”
Since the original announcement, the two companies have successfully developed and demonstrated the technology. But while emergency messaging using Snapdragon Satellite was expected to debut starting in the second half of 2023, smartphone manufacturers did not opt to include the technology in their devices. For this reason, Qualcomm notified Iridium on 3 November that it had elected to terminate the agreements, effective 3 December.
“While I’m disappointed that this partnership didn’t bear immediate fruit, we believe the direction of the industry is clear toward increased satellite connectivity in consumer devices,” Desch said. “Led by Apple today, MNOs and device manufacturers still plan, over time, to provide their customers with expanded coverage and new satellite-based features, and our global coverage and regulatory certainty make us well suited to be a key player in this emerging market. User experience will be critical to their success, and we’ve proven that we can provide a reliable, global capability to mobile users.”
With the termination of the agreements, Iridium said it will be free to directly re-engage with smartphone OEMs, other chipmakers and smartphone operating system developers that the company had been collaborating with previously. Iridium also plans to pursue new relationships with smart device OEMs, chipmakers and developers for its existing and future service plans, noting that those electing to adopt an Iridium solution can be involved in the company’s Narrowband Non-Terrestrial-Network service development planning, announced in September.
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