Qualcomm may be better known for their Snapdragon lineup of processors as those power up many phones that use the Android operating system. The company is actually investing in other kind of technologies related to mobile devices such as Mirasol and Pixtronix which could improve the displays for a better performance and less battery consumption. Other point of focus is the Wireless Charging technology that could be used in electric cars and some other developments are meant to improve connectivity in mobile devices. The company has also built some hardware such as feature phones, but now they're looking to enter into a new product category: drones.
The company expects to sell their processors to drone makers, particularly those specialized in photography. Current offerings need multiple chips to take pictures, get located by GPS and communicate with other devices, but some processors of the company like the Snapdragon 800 already integrate all of the hardware required for these functions, so the drones could become more cost efficient. Current entry-level drones available for consumers cost around $500, but Qualcomm believes that if they used their processors, they could bring down the cost and they might end up costing hundreds of dollars less.
The decision to engage this new market comes from the fact that the smartphone market is leveling off, also they see potential in other Internet-of-Things devices, as they could integrate some of the company's current offerings. Qualcomm recently bought a flight software company to know more about how drones work. It is said that the company is already in talks with the most important drone makers, providing them samples of their chipset offering before they share more details about this new approach next month. They even have a 3D printed prototype of a drone with the chip to show that these devices can get more compact and the reduced costs in building them. The recently announced Snapdragon 820 chipset could bring even more advantages as a more precise geo-localization and to better surroundings recognition to avoid collisions. The company has been having some loss that translates in reducing their budget and cutting out jobs, so expanding to new markets seems a good move.