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The Initial Response of Qualcomm’s Always Connected PCs

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Qualcomm’s and Microsoft’s Always Connected PC initiative

While Qualcomm (QCOM) is facing macro, legal, and political challenges in its smartphone business, it’s continuing its efforts to diversify into other markets. It tried entering the PC (personal computer) market for the second time after its first failed attempt with Windows RT in 2013.

Qualcomm and Microsoft (MSFT) partnered to develop ACPC (Always Connected PCs). These laptops are powered by Qualcomm’s ARM-based Snapdragon 845 processors and run Microsoft Windows 10. Unlike other laptops that need a Wi-Fi connection, always connected PCs get connected through LTE (Long-Term Evolution).

Qualcomm is working with several PC OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), including HP (HPQ), Asus, and Lenovo, and service providers Verizon, Sprint, and other carriers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and France for its ACPC initiative.

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Its latest partnership is with India’s (INDA) cellular operator Jio and IoT (Internet of Things) maker Smartron to develop ARM-based laptops powered by 4G (fourth-generation) technology. According to Business Today, several third-party research companies, including Counterpoint Research, stated that laptop and PC shipments are growing in India, and cellular connectivity in laptops could prove to be a success in that market.

Reviews of Qualcomm’s always connected PCs

The first ARM-based Windows laptops powered by Qualcomm’s chips are in the market. However, the first reviews of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835-powered laptops weren’t very good. They said that Qualcomm-powered laptops offered good battery life but at the cost of performance.

While these always-connected laptops were up and working using a SIM (subscriber identity module) card, they were slow to perform maintenance tasks such as installing an update or antivirus. Moreover, the laptop could only run old 32-bit Windows applications.

Overall, Qualcomm-powered PCs had a poor price-to-performance ratio. That raised fears among many analysts that the ACPC initiative would suffer the same fate as Windows RT. Microsoft addressed those concerns in an interview. We’ll look at the company’s response in the next part of this series.

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