Qualcomm enables laptops with both EV-DO and HSPA

Qualcomm launched on a Wednesday a dual-3G chip with EV-DO and HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) for laptops. This will enable laptop makers to embed a WWAN chip that can handle any of the two most dominant cellular broadband technologies in the world.

Currently, laptops are available with embedded chips that work with either AT&T’s HSPA or Verizon Wireless’ or Sprint Nextel’s or Alltel’s EV-DO network, but no laptop can work with both HSPA or EV-DO networks. Different parts of the world have different broadband networks – the US, Asia (China, India, and Japan) and Australia have both EV-DO and HSPA, Europe is predominantly HSPA (HSDPA and HSUPA), while Korea is EV-DO, making it difficult for laptop users that travel internationally to use the laptop with Wireless Broadband.

Here are the biggest benefits of the dual-3G chipset for laptops:

  1. Qualcomm’s new Gobi chip can connect to either type of network, so the well-traveled users will have a laptop that will work pretty much anywhere in the world. This would also be a good selling point for wireless service providers.
  2. Rather than make two separate laptops for EV-DO and HSPA, laptop manufacturers can manufacture a single laptop with both. Each chipset will cost more because it packs more punch, thus the dual-3G laptop will be more expensive, but costs can be lowered through volume manufacturing, and reduced marketing, distribution and inventory costs, and simpler sales process.
  3. Customers with multiple subscriptions have the ability to choose the best coverage in a given area without having to lug around multiple laptops or multiple USB or PCMCIA WWAN cards, as well as decide on the lowest cost (especially when roaming).

The Gobi chips are available immediately, and Qualcomm expects them to appear in laptops in the second quarter of next year.

Still, the Gobi chip is limited to EV-DO and HSPA, and does not support WiMAX. Wireless carriers are still rolling out WiMAX (the first rollout in the U.S. will be in 2008), and WiMAX will be an important consideration for laptops.

Acer finds a Gateway to the U.S. PC Market

Acer on recently announced plans to acquire Gateway for $710 million or $1.90 for each Gateway share. The deal has been approved by the boards of both companies and the acquisition is expected to close in December.

The benefits of this acquisition are:

  1. Wider Distribution Channel: With this acquisition, Acer, Taiwanese company, will overtake Lenovo in market share and become the world’s No. 3 PC-maker, and gets a long-desired foothold in the U.S. consumer marker because Gateway is the No. 4 PC maker in the United States, behind Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple. Acer has traditionally been strongest in Asia and has recently made strides in Europe.
  2. Broader Marketing Strategy: Acer will use a multi-tier strategy, much like Hewlett-Packard two-tier strategy of selling PCs under the HP and Compaq brand names. Acer-Gateway will have almost an ideal combination of brands with eMachines for low-cost desktops, Acer for low-cost notebooks, Gateway for midrange desktop and notebooks, and Ferrari for high-end notebooks.
  3. Better Supply-chain leverage: With its bigger size, Acer will be able to get better deals from its suppliers as well as optimize its supply-chain and optimize its product plants.
  4. Keep Lenovo in check: Lenovo has been coveting an entrance into the European PC market. With the entrance into the U.S. market, Acer will be able to keep Lenovo in check in the European market. Gateway has a strange arrangement where Gateway can buy Packard-Bell who is strong in the European market. With the acquisition of Gateway, Acer has the opportunity to acquire Packard-Bell and prevent Lenovo from a entering the European market by acquiring Packard-Bell.

Even as the Acer-Gateway combination creates a more formidable competitor, the reduction of a competitor should be a boon for all the PC makers. Ultimately, this should improve Acer’s profitability, through increased revenues as well as better leveraged costs.