Qualcomm's Kayak "PC alternative" pictured

Qualcomm's Kayak "PC alternative" pictured

Summary: Here's a picture of Kayak, the "PC alternative" for emerging markets that Qualcomm announced yesterday. It looks pretty much the way the company described it: sort of a cross between the Apple Mac Mini--bring your own monitor, keyboard and mouse--and the OLPC's XO laptop with its rabbit-ear antennae.

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Qualcomm Kayak

Here's a picture of Kayak, the "PC alternative" for emerging markets that Qualcomm announced yesterday. It looks pretty much the way the company described it: sort of a cross between the Apple Mac Mini--bring your own monitor, keyboard and mouse--and the OLPC's XO laptop with its rabbit-ear antennae.

Kayak has received a lot of coverage in the past 24 hours (here's the Kayak press release), but it's a bit misleading. Qualcomm isn't going to start building netbooks. This device is a prototype that Qualcomm is demonstrating today at its analysts' day in New York. The company hopes PC manufacturers, or more likely wireless carriers, will use this Kayak design to quickly build their own low-cost devices for markets such as India, China and South America using Qualcomm's chips.

Nevertheless the concept is interesting. Qualcomm is essentially betting that expertise in wireless will trump expertise in PC hardware and software when it comes to connecting the rest of the world to the Internet. Given the number of handset and the growth of 3G in all parts of the world--709 million subscribers growing to 1.6 billion by 2012--they could have a point.

So what exactly is the Kayak? The design is based on Qualcomm's MSM 7000 series chipset, which is a highly-integrated chipset currently used in many smartphones such as T-Mobile's G1 with Google's Android. Obviously one key difference compared to the XO laptop or Intel Classmate PC is that Qualcomm's chipset includes wireless wide-area networking--both on CDMA2000 and WCDMA networks. It also uses Qualcomm's Brew software platform and a version of the Opera browser for running Web-based applications. Kayak devices will also be capable of digital music playback and some level of 3D gaming.

The chipset uses an ARM application processor so it can't run Windows applications, but like Linux-based netbooks, Kayak devices could run existing productivity suites and support some Office file formats. "Long-term we would welcome the opportunity to port any of the Windows applications and we've had numerous discussions with Microsoft on this, but we don't have anything to announce at this point," CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs said at the meeting today. He added that Qualcomm has worked with Adobe to support Flash applications on Brew, which should make it easier to quickly develop applications.

Inventec, a contract manufacturer in Taiwan, will manufacture initial Kayak devices for trials in first quarter of 2009 in Southeast Asia. Qualcomm says Kayak-based devices will cost less than $400, but carriers could also subsidize the cost with a contract--a trend that's already emerging with netbooks in Western Europe and Japan. Eventually Qualcomm may shift the Kayak design to its more powerful Snapdragon processor, which is primarily designed for netbooks and should start showing up in a few devices next year.

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Networking, Wi-Fi

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6 comments
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  • Good to see innovation

    Maybe this one will do better than their laptop they had about 10 years ago.

    Don't remember what it was called but I remember it ran qnx.
    Comnenus
  • And they don't consider Africa as a viable market ?

    "The company hopes PC manufacturers, or more likely wireless carriers, will use this Kayak design to quickly build their own low-cost devices for markets such as India, China and South America using Qualcomm???s chips."

    And what about Africa ?
    Is it considered by Qualcomm as a no man lands where people are not interested by such tools ?
    And this despites countries with strong economies such as South Africa,Morroco,Tunisia,Nigeria,etc... ?
    And this despites countries such as Ivory Coast(my country) which is quite advanced in the domain of telecoms(with at least 3 phone operators and two more to come in a close future) ?
    This is deeply insulting and i will make sure not to buy anything Qualcomm related in the future.
    timiteh
  • Try reading the article.

    It plainly says that Qualcomm will not be building the device themselves.

    Its a reference point for other companies to build using their own software and interfaces - Qualcomm will only make the chips for it, so its for your country's emerging tech companies to build cheaply and run with, wherever that is.

    The press release makes no statement about intended market either, perhaps you should aim your anger at yourself for misinterpreting the author's intent - he does say '... markets such as ...', meaning the following list is not exhaustive.

    And no, I dont have any affiliation to Qualcomm or ZDNet, just an interest in educating people regardless of circumstance, age, sex, race or ability to a standard where they can communicate effectively.
    SiO2
    • Perhaps you should learn first how to answer to a post on this board

      And yes i have understood that Qualcomm won't build themselves such tools as they certainly don't have the capability to do so.
      And no i have no reason to turn my anger agaisnt myself.
      This press release is from Qualcomm and the fact that they didn't mention Africa or even a single country from Africa,means for me that ,they ,among other companies, don't consider that Africa even needs to be considered as a viable market for such tools.
      To be honest, Qualcomm is not the only company toward whom my anger is aimed at.
      Qualcomm just happen to be the last straw, at least for me, for companies that don't even do a single effort to target some African markets with quite a high potential.
      For example the PC market of my country would welcome netbooks but i have yet to see one constructor or one of their partner trying to sell even a single model,here.
      I have been forced to buy my Asus Eee PC 701 from France.
      Fortunately some companies such as Nokia or Microsoft are doing it with quite some efficiency.
      timiteh
      • Your preaching to the converted

        It wont be Nokia or another large company like them who will first adopt these new chipsets, as they have their own, and their own market agenda. The problem isnt with unit sales, but infrastructure to build the network on, and it plain doesnt exist right now.

        The only way to build that is by subsidy, by education and by physical hard work on the ground and that takes time and/or considerable resource. Once suitable hardware is built it still has to be uptaken by the communities, who then need to be taught how to use it, maintain and expand it.

        If you follow the link to the press release, that mentions no country at all, just the global market. It was the author of the original post who gave examples of markets that might be targetted by potential manufacturers of Qualcomm's basic design, and I'm sure he would be appalled to think his views might be considered so coloured as well.

        It is easy to understand your anger, but save it for the governmental bodies that are the real obstructions here - Qualcomm and others have invested millions into research to enable developing markets.

        And finally, its easy to hit the wrong 'button' in a text-only browser you've written yourself...

        Peace, dude.
        SiO2
  • Isn't the Kayak brand name...

    ...owned by HP? I know I've owned several HP Kayak's, the XA and XU mainly. They were good boxes, I wonder if HP has any involvement in this project?
    914four