Qualcomm has decided to abandon its plans to offer the Snapdragon Satellite feature for Android phones, which was intended to rival Apple’s satellite SOS feature on its latest iPhones. The feature, announced in partnership with satellite communications company Iridium in January, has been terminated due to a lack of interest from smartphone makers.
Iridium stated that Qualcomm chose to terminate the partnership because no smartphone manufacturer signed up to use the feature, even though it had already been successfully developed and demonstrated. Despite this setback, Qualcomm will continue working with Iridium on standards-based solutions for satellite connectivity, indicating that they may still try to deliver satellite connectivity features for Android phones in the future.
The Snapdragon Satellite feature was intended to compete with Apple’s Emergency SOS feature, which allows iPhone users to alert emergency services or request roadside assistance over a satellite network when they are out of range of regular cell service. While Apple currently offers this service for free, they will start charging users for access to satellite communications next year.
One possible reason for the lack of interest in Snapdragon Satellite could be the payment structure. Qualcomm would have been responsible for managing payments to Iridium for access to its satellites, which may not have been appealing to smartphone makers. Qualcomm’s shift towards a standards-based approach to satellite connectivity would give smartphone manufacturers more control over their relationship with satellite companies.
Although satellite connectivity is now available in all new iPhones, the demand for this service has yet to be proven. Apple is currently covering the costs, and it remains to be seen how many users are willing to pay for satellite connectivity. However, Iridium remains hopeful that phone makers will eventually see the value in this feature and is actively engaging with potential partners.
Overall, Qualcomm’s decision to scrap the Snapdragon Satellite feature highlights the challenges and uncertainties in delivering satellite connectivity for Android phones, but the future of this technology remains promising.