At The Mobile Show last week in Dubai, I had the chance to sit down with Ziad Matar, Senior Director, Business Development, Middle East & Central Asia at Qualcomm. He chatted about the company’s current Snapdragon processor and how the company is looking to support regional app development as a priority moving forward.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor is currently powering some of the latest smartphones in the market, such as the Galaxy S4, HTC One, and BlackBerry Z10. As a company, how does it make you feel powering some of the heavyweight devices in the industry?

What we are always trying to do as a company is to think ahead – ahead of the market, ahead of what we think consumers will demand next. So that is why we are always striving to put the best technologies into our processors and solutions so as to satisfy the needs of the end consumer. At the same time we want to keep everything as efficient as possible, in terms of the space it takes up, power consumption, heat dissipation, and of course the cost. Our philosophy when it comes down to multi-core processors is a very sound approach, both from the perspective of performance as well as battery performance. We’re always proud when our designs are selected by these key players and we strive to always bring something new to the market.

Your next iteration of the Snapdragon processor is the Snapdragon 800 – what can we expect from this model and how soon will we see it being implemented in devices?

The Snapdragon 800 is a further move for us in mobile computing, because we see the demands of the end user and their expectations are above and beyond what they would even demand of a personal computer. They require top performance, high responsive time, always connected, great screens, multimedia features, gaming – all of this is great because it drives innovation not just from us, but also from our partners. But we also need to make sure that we don’t compromise on anything that is key to the essence of mobility itself. That’s why we strive to ensure devices remain sleek and power-efficient, as well as charging quickly.

Do you foresee a time where a smartphone could replace the desktop PC experience? Essentially you would just show up to the office, dock your smartphone, and work directly off it; an example being something like Ubuntu.

I think the usage is shifting greatly to the mobile space. I read an article recently that stated that productivity apps on tablets are coming very close to their desktop counterparts, the only difference being the size of your screen. Ubuntu moving into the mobile space is almost a natural progression for them – we’re seeing new movers into mobile space, Firefox being a great example. Google has two operating systems; Android and Chrome OS. At the end of the day for the consumer it’s all about choice, it’s the most basic need to have.

You’re here at The Mobile show with a big focus on regional app development. What is Qualcomm doing to encourage local developers?

Firstly it’s important to say why we’re doing this in the first place. The modern smartphone is a great device, but at the end of the day, what runs on them is what makes them truly special to us. So we wanted to see as many local and regional apps running on these devices as possible. That is our end goal – it’s to promote the local developers and ensure that their apps are getting as much visibility as possible. What we’ve realized is that entrepreneurs have some great ideas, but not a lot of these ideas make it out to the market. So we offer an environment where we can support and help these developers both from a technical as well as a business perspective. We have a very strong developer network called the Qualcomm Developer Network, or QDevNet, which has very strong toolkits to make an application better and run more efficiently on a Qualcomm chipset. So we put this toolkit in the hands of developers, and built a strong support network to ensure that developers get the most out of their applications. We also do a lot of training around mobile development, and also determine what’s the best way to get something from an idea concept to the planning and design stage to finally being available to consumers.

What has the response been from the development community about Qualcomm’s support?

We are seeing a lot of interest around the program and formally kicked off projects about the first quarter of this year. I think what works a lot in our favor is that we have slowly built a very good reputation among developers. We don’t just swoop in for a short time with an arm of the company while everyone else works on different things – we involve core sections of the business with the same level and weight as other projects. The investment and support you put into developers is probably bigger than the investment you put anywhere else, so we want to make sure that the community understands that we take things very seriously and are here to help.

What are Qualcomm’s plans for the region in the next quarter?

Right now we have some consumer initiatives in the region, so we’ve kicked off with a campaign in Saudi Arabia around our Snapdragon processor. We also have a series of road shows planned that stretch from Saudi, to UAE, to Bahrain. We’re also trying to get developer ideas out into the market as soon as possible – we want to try and push for apps to be installed and available on devices in the market from day one.

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A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys playing videogames during work hours and tinkering with the latest gadgets.


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