Dec 4, 2017

Qualcomm makes another bid to get inside the PC

Qualcomm's Cristiano Amon leads the company's chipmaking unit. Photo illustration: Axios Visuals

Not for the first time, Qualcomm is trying to find a place inside the personal computer.

The last time was a flop, in large part because the operating system — Windows RT — didn't really run all the programs people expect from their computer. Flash forward a couple of years and Microsoft and Qualcomm are taking another swing, promising that in the new crop of always connected PCs, you will get cellular connectivity in a thin, light device with all-day battery life — and it will run all the Windows apps people care about.

Why it matters: Qualcomm is facing increasing pressure in its core mobile phone business as market leaders Samsung and Apple increasingly look to others. Getting even a small slice of the PC business could be a big deal.

Cristiano Amon, the executive who runs Qualcomm's chip business, spoke with Axios ahead of Tuesday's event.

Here are some of his key points:

  • Microsoft and Qualcomm learned their lesson from Windows RT. "There is no second class version of Windows – there's only one Windows. Every single app that people care about will work."
  • The always connected PCs should have all-day battery life or more and start at $600 to $800. "Those are prices with high-speed cellular modem, not Wi-Fi only. We think that's going to be competitive."
  • They're competing with tablets to be your third device (after main PC and phone). "If you have a tablet as a third device, I will argue this is a better experience than a tablet. It is a full, connected PC."
  • Qualcomm doesn't have to dominate the PC market for it to be a win. "We don't participate (today). Even if we get a smaller share, it is a great outcome for us."

More details: Qualcomm and Microsoft will be going into more detail on the new PCs at an event in Maui this week.

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