Qualcomm Develops New Cellular Platform

A new software platform developed by wireless technology firm Qualcomm Inc. will make it easier to add complex games, music and other applications to mobile phones, the company said Wednesday.

The new platform will allow software developers to create standard programs for downloading applications that work in phones and other wireless devices from a variety of manufacturers, company officials said.

Several manufacturers and wireless carriers have signed agreements to begin using the new technology and Qualcomm expects phones built with the technology will start to be available to the public by the fall, said company spokeswoman Christine Trimble.

Other companies, including Motorola, are also developing common operating systems that will make it easier to add more applications to phones and handheld wireless devices.

But it remains in question whether ordinary consumers will be willing to convert their easy-to-use cell phones into personal computing devices with many applications, said Craig Mathias, an industry analyst with Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass.

“It’s certainly not going to be something that everyone is going to want to take advantage of,” Mathias said. “It creates a level of complexity that some people won’t want.”

New BREW

Carriers that have agreed to use Qualcomm’s technology include Verizon Wireless and Leap in the United States, Korea Telecom Freetel and Pegaso in Mexico. The manufactures include Samsung and Kyocera Wireless Corp., Trimble said.

The platform is known as BREW, for binary runtime environment for wireless. Initially, it will be available to phones powered by Qualcomm’s patented CDMA chip technology. But the company said eventually it will be available to other systems.

“Until the BREW platform, no widespread, uniform and powerful platform existed for wireless devices,” said Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm’s executive vice president.

Wireless carriers benefit from the move because the increased applications will encourage people to spend more time on their cell phones, generating more revenue for the companies. Qualcomm’s effort is one of several in the world seeking to make mobile devices more versatile, including the addition of messaging and Internet capability.

Shares of Qualcomm were down $1.63 to $84.06 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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