The entire world is going through digital transformation with connectivity at the center intelligently bridging the edge-cloud gap. The data emanating at the edge, whether it is telemetry data from the sensors or location, has been pivotal in adding intelligence, context, and analytics to the connected asset to enable quick, accurate, informed, and timely decision-making.
If we look at the entire IoT or location value chain, it spans from the endpoint/edge (possibly a device/sensor/gateway) to the network infrastructure, enabling connectivity between the edge and the software or API-driven cloud and analytics platforms. While connectivity is the glue, location also provides important context to the asset and the data emanating from the asset.
WATCH: Qualcomm Aware Platform Explained
Power of connectivity and location
We have extensively researched and talked about the IoT market and the importance of end-to-end control, from chipsets, modules, and devices to connectivity to the platforms, including both IoT and location. The IoT landscape, which has been fragmented, is now undergoing consolidation as there is a significant mismatch between the value being created and captured. However, the success in IoT lies in a player which can be integrated and offer end-to-end capabilities while also remaining open and flexible to work with different partners across the value chain at the same time. This should allow the player to create and capture maximum value opportunities for everyone and accelerate the digital transformation journeys of different companies.
Qualcomm has been the leading and largest “connectivity” chipset provider in the IoT and automotive segments, shipping hundreds of millions of chips every year. While connectivity and IoT are natural to Qualcomm, the San Diego-based systems company has also realized the importance of blending the power of location and connectivity. Therefore, Qualcomm has acquired its long-time partner Skyhook, a Boston-based company that has been a leader in the development of location technologies integrating into the devices, and PoLTE, a Dallas-based company focusing on cellular-based accurate positioning technology for mobile devices to IoT applications such as fleet management and asset tracking. Driving location-based intelligence right from the chipset via APIs reduces a lot of integration-related difficulties for companies trying to connect their assets to the cloud securely and seamlessly.
WATCH: Qualcomm Aware Platform Use Cases Demo
Qualcomm Aware SaaS platform – API-driven chip to cloud connectivity
With its important position in the IoT value chain and leveraging its location and connectivity expertise, Qualcomm recently launched Qualcomm Aware, an API-first platform offering secure and out-of-the-box chip-to-cloud integration. Qualcomm is doing this via an intelligent software on top of the chip to help solution makers optimize, configure, and transmit location and telemetry data from the edge to the cloud simply via APIs integrating with partner solutions.
Initial capabilities: Location data, connectivity management, security and more
The Qualcomm Aware solution can be tailored to specific verticals, applications or use cases. It comprises of following capabilities:
• Location data GNSS, cellular, Wi-Fi, hybrid location, geofencing, etc
• Power-optimized, configurable hardware and software components
• Security – edge to cloud, Silicon Root of Trust, provisioning, etc
• Connectivity management – cellular, roaming, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc
• Devices – With Qualcomm Aware low-power embedded chipsets
In our opinion, the platform for a particular use case, such as asset tracker, might offer the full solution to start with. But when the need to scale up arises, the platform will have to become more modular so that the end customers or system integrators have more options to choose from. For example, just leverage location APIs or with connectivity management or the off-the-shelf Qualcomm Aware partner devices or not.
Initially targeted use cases: Asset tracking
Since it blends location and connectivity well, asset tracking is the lowest-hanging opportunity for Qualcomm Aware.
Qualcomm has partnered with Quectel, Ikotek, Thundercomm, and others to build Qualcomm Aware-ready asset trackers to help customers kickstart with the offering as the previous-generation chipset-based devices cannot be upgraded to become Qualcomm Aware compatible. While the solution comes with bundled connectivity (via partner), Qualcomm does not aim to become an MVNO and step on its partners’ toes. For the mapping, routing and location data, Qualcomm is partnering with Mapbox and TomTom in this initial phase. Larger players such as HERE and Google are expected to be on the partnership roadmap eventually.
Therefore, transport and logistics is the initial target segment, followed by retail, manufacturing, construction and utilities.
Success will be in partnerships and moving to self-serve model
Qualcomm is thus expanding its capabilities and offerings to become a strong enabler with a platform play in this high-potential, fragmented but consolidating market. The timing of the launch might be questionable for many considering the ongoing consolidation, but we believe this is the best time to enter the market with a unique and highly scalable platform to invigorate this market, especially with a strong position in the edge market.
To be successful with a SaaS approach, being open and striking the right partnerships is paramount. It is great to see Qualcomm striking partnerships across the value chain, from module and device manufacturers, software and middleware players, and location and mapping vendors to system integrators and cloud players. Qualcomm will have to invest in and empower dedicated pre-sales, consulting and post-sales teams to make headway into these markets. Moving to a self-serve model would be critical to further scaling the SaaS business.
Key takeaways: Chip-to-cloud partner-driven IoT and location platform approach
• No vendor other than Qualcomm enjoys a strong position when it comes to the edge of the market.
• As intelligence moves to the edge, a secure edge-to-cloud connectivity offering can help simplify integration, portability and provisioning of IoT solutions, catalyzing the IoT ecosystem.
• Qualcomm Aware helps the company broaden its portfolio beyond hardware to a recurring and scalable software/services business, which investors and partners would welcome.
• Further, Qualcomm Aware can help crack the significant but complex and fragmented IoT market to make a play in the $700-billion connected intelligent edge opportunity.
• The platform’s future success will depend on how Qualcomm expands its partner ecosystem across verticals and geographies while also moving to a self-serve model.