The power beneath the skin of the Windows Phone 7 devices is just one chipmaker--but it's not Intel.
Brooke CrothersFormer CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon silicon made a sweep of all of the Windows Phone 7 smartphones announced today, rendering the hardware from various manufacturers relatively homogeneous inside.
Against a backdrop of phone announcements from companies such as Samsung, HTC, and Dell, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer posted a video today discussing the relationship between the two companies.
"Qualcomm and Microsoft have a long history of working together to optimize the mobile operating system for Qualcomm chips and platforms...We're excited to bring a new generation of Windows phones exclusively featuring Snapdragon mobile processors," Ballmer said.
"This really shows...what can happen when people bring together great software and great hardware," said Jacobs in the video.
But this collaboration also brings Windows PC-like hardware uniformity. Just as the PC world has the Windows operating system and Intel processors, this first crop of Windows Phone 7 smartphones feature a Microsoft OS and Qualcomm silicon.
"If all of them feature the same hardware (internal) and same operating system, what happens to the differentiation?" asked Ashok Kumar, managing director and analyst at Rodman & Renshaw. Other smartphone processor suppliers include Texas Instruments, Marvell Technology, and Samsung, who provide chips for Android and BlackBerry phones, among others.
And it remains to be seen if Windows Phone 7 devices can find a place in a very crowded market. "I think one of the biggest questions is what are the prospects of Windows Phone 7," said Kumar. "Most of the resources are targeted toward Apple and Android and then you have RIM and the QNX (operating system). There are many questions here, not least of which is what will the receptivity of the consumer be?" Kumar said.
Windows Phone 7 smartphones include the Dell Venue, HTC 7 Mozart, HTC 7 Trophy, HTC HD7, HTC Surround, HTC 7 Pro, LG Quantum, LG Optimus 7, Samsung Focus, and Samsung Omnia 7. Inside these products is Qualcomm's 1GHz application processor, a 3D graphics function, support for high-megapixel cameras, and the requisite 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, among other functions..