Qualcomm gives Snapdragon a facelift

The Snapdragon chip brand no longer refers to a mere processor; now it’s a platform, don’t you know.

Qualcomm was early to the branded mobile chip game, establishing the Snapdragon brand at around the time the modern smartphone era kicked-off. It has not always had a coherent vision for the brand, often using sinister lizardy imagery designed to play on the ‘dragon’ part of the name, despite a Snapdragon actually being a type of flower. It was presumably concluded that pictures of flowers would fail to convey a sufficient sense of power and general technological virility (see video below).

The company is also very neurotic about its external messaging, with executive canned comments having apparently been exhaustively tweaked by its army of lawyers before release, usually resulting in the most suffocatingly generic and vacuous fare. Now it seems Qualcomm has decided referring to Snapdragon as a processor no longer does justice to its true majesty and it’s time to upgrade it to a platform.

“In truth, Snapdragon is more than a single component, a piece of silicon, or what many would misinterpret as the CPU; it’s an anthology of technology, composed of hardware, software, and services that are not fully captured in a word like ‘processor,’ blogged Qualcomm’s Don McGuire. “That is why Qualcomm Technologies is refining our terminology by referring to Snapdragon as a ‘platform’ instead of a processor.”

He went on to say even the term system-on-a-chip (SoC), which is commonly used to describe pieces of silicon that house various processing components such as CPU, GPU, RAM, DSP and countless other abbreviations, fails to do Snapdragon justice. Only the term ‘platform’ is capable of acknowledging other important techy stuff like the RF front-end and wifi chips.

“The shift isn’t seismic,” concedes McGuire, “but we believe it is a step in the right direction and that it will help us better demonstrate the overall value of a chip, beyond ‘speeds and feeds’. That last point is a valid one and a perennial challenge for tech companies – to be viewed as solution providers rather than just widget-makers. Whether or not this facelift will help Qualcomm achieve that remains to be seen.

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