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Friday, 14 November 2008 00:39

Qualcomm's Kayak: a Net surfboard for the developing world

Mobile phones far outnumber PCs in developing nations but they're not the best devices for surfing the net. Qualcomm, has a vision of devices that are part mobile phone part PC that will meet this need, cheaply and effectively.

Qualcomm has launched 'Kayak' a reference design based around its existing mobile handset chipsets and billed as "a PC alternative [that] leverages the widespread availability of 3G wireless broadband to bring Internet connectivity to markets where wired Internet access has often been difficult to access or unaffordable."

According to Qualcomm Kayak will "fill the niche that exists between desktop PCs, which normally require landlines or separate accessories for connectivity, and Internet-capable wireless devices."

Kayak has also been designed to exploit the growing trend to deliver applications that normally run on the PC from within the cloud, as software as a service accessible from a browsers. So Kayak users will be able to gain access to these applications without having a PC.

Kayak devices will come with a inbuilt browser from Opera Software integrated with the Qualcomm chipsets that, Qualcomm says, will be "a full-featured Web 2.0-capable browser able to perform at desktop resolutions."

Rod Hamlin, senior vice president of sales, Americas for Opera Software, explained that "Web-based applications open up new possibilities for people in emerging markets for whom packaged software can be expensive.

Combining the Opera browser with Qualcomm's chipset is a great way to help bring the power of connected computing to millions of new Internet users around the world."

A Kayak device will be a 'box' into which you'll be able to plug either a TV or computer monitor as a display device and a standard keyboard and mouse for input.

It will use Qualcomm's dual-core Mobile Station Modem MSM7xxx-series chipsets to provide both computing and connectivity. There will also be a music player and/or 3D gaming capability.

Qualcomm is planning to have demonstration units for trial in the first quarter of 2009 manufactured by Inventec Corporation of Taiwan. These will operate on both CDMA2000 (1x-EVDO) networks and WCDMA (HSPA) networks.

However Qualcomm's main plan is to market Kayak as a reference design and set of recommended software specifications that will be made available to device manufacturers who will then be able to "that take advantage of the high level of integration, inherent connectivity and comprehensive functionality."

Further down the track it expects that Kayak will use Snapdragon, Qualcomm's planned mobile device chipset, announced in November 2006 and billed as "a significant step toward realising the company's vision of universal mobility."

Qualcomm promised that Snapdragon would "add expanded functionality to future generations of consumer electronics - from gaming/portable entertainment devices to pocket computers and beyond - by delivering ubiquitous mobile broadband access, together with unsurpassed processing performance and battery life."

Snapdragon, and quite likely Kayak, will feature in Qualcomm's first ever briefing to media and analysts in Australia, on 19 November.

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