Exclusive: Qualcomm may create Snapdragon editions of gadgets from other brands

Qualcomm makes the platforms that power some of the world’s best consumer technology, but it may one day partner with other brands to create Snapdragon editions of already existing gadgets.

Flights and accommodation for this launch event were funded by Qualcomm, but views reflect the independent opinion of the author.

Don McGuire, chief marketing officer at Qualcomm, spoke to TechRadar about potential plans for Snapdragon editions that could one day be introduced to the company’s product line.

Speaking about the 2021 smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders, McGuire confirmed that the company is still giving an update on its performance. It is currently undecided if it will move forward with a second generation product.

McGuire said: “Our intention was never to get into the phone business and compete with our customers. We’re not Microsoft.

“It’s more about can we leverage, can we get feedback and is there an affinity for that? What kind of things can we learn? And, then, where would we go?

“We have different scenarios, like do we want to do Snapdragon editions? Do we want to partner with our partners on wearables and other places and create a Snapdragon edition of their products.”

Different Scenarios

Clearly this is an early concept for the company, but it may mean we see products that already use Qualcomm’s technology packaged in special editions with Snapdragon branding attached.

McGuire’s example was in wearables, but it was clear that Qualcomm was considering this strategy in its other existing verticals as well. This may mean that we will see smartphones with the Snapdragon Edition branding in the future.

On the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders, McGuire explained that it was never intended to be a project that would sell a lot of devices.

He said: “It was a great experience. It was less about seeing if we could sell a Snapdragon-branded phone and more about testing brand affinity and getting feedback on certain features and experiences.

It was never about selling a bunch of phones.

Don McGuire, Qualcomm Chief Marketing Officer

“We were seeing if we could leverage our [Snapdragon] Insider base to give us more proactive input in the product development process through a device like this.

“What became of it was always an open question. We’re like, let’s do it, post it and see what happens and see what kind of feedback we get.

“We’re looking at all these different outlets. It’s about improving the brand. But it was never meant to sell a bunch of phones. Because it was super expensive… right?”

The handset was made in conjunction with Asus, and for anyone willing to buy it, there was the prohibitive launch price of $1,499 / £1,099 (around AU$2,020) to bear.

McGuire also confirmed that the project also landed later than Qualcomm originally expected with delays affecting the release of the Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders.

The device was revealed in July 2021 and went on sale about a month later. It used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 platform even though the upgraded Snapdragon 888 Plus SoC was revealed a few weeks before the handset was launched.

McGuire made it clear that no decision has been made on where the company will go next with its Snapdragon Insider or Snapdragon Edition products.

He said: “Once we get all the feedback, we’ll sit down – probably in the first quarter of next year – and say, here’s what we’ve learned and where do we want to go next?”

Will that mean more Snapdragon-branded gadgets? Only time will tell, but it’s an interesting path for a brand that’s always focused on making the technology that powers other brands’ devices.