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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite SOS for Android plan is dead

Published Nov 10th, 2023 1:44PM EST
iPhone 14's Emergency SOS via satellite feature.
Image: Apple

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Earlier this year, Qualcomm announced a partnership with satellite connectivity provider Iridium to create Snapdragon Satellite, a proprietary technology to connect smartphones to satellites in order to provide emergency and other services. Ten months after the plan was announced, the companies are already calling it off.

As reported by CNBC, Qualcomm blames phone makers for the death of the feature, saying that there wasn’t much interest from brands to include the proprietary feature. While the company says that they “successfully developed and demonstrated the technology,” phone makers just “have not included the technology in their devices.”

Due to the lack of interest, Qualcomm has ended its partnership with Iridium. The company says that the market is moving towards a standards-based solution rather than a proprietary one, so that will be where their focus goes in support of satellite connectivity going forward.

Qualcomm said in a statement smartphone makers have “indicated a preference towards standards-based solutions” for satellite-to-phone connectivity….We expect to continue to collaborate with Iridium on standards-based solutions while discontinuing efforts on the proprietary solution that was introduced earlier this year,” the company said.

Iridium CEO Matt Desch said in a statement, “While I’m disappointed that this partnership didn’t bear immediate fruit, we believe the direction of the industry is clear toward increased satellite connectivity in consumer devices.” It’s interesting to see Qualcomm abandon a proprietary solution since Samsung announced something similar earlier this year.

Starlink's Direct to Cell satellite cellular serviceImage source: Starlink

The feature would have competed with Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature, which the company originally launched on the iPhone 14 lineup. With it, users are able to contact emergency services — even if they don’t have a cellular connection. So far, Apple’s is the only widely available service for smartphone customers.

While Qualcomm has abandoned its current plan, other companies like SpaceX are moving forward with their own. Starlink’s satellite communication service is set to launch next year. Eventually, the company wants to provide satellite connectivity in the form of text, phone, and even data to phones without the need for any special hardware.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.