Qualcomm and satellite communications company Iridium, which were looking to bring satellite-to-phone services, have ended their partnership.
Iridium announced on Thursday that they “successfully developed and demonstrated the technology.” However, smartphone makers refused to use the tech in their devices. Thus, Qualcomm decided to terminate the agreement. Following the news, Iridium stock fell over 8%, but the company said terminating the contract with Qualcomm would not affect its full-year 2023 financial guidance.
Qualcomm also said in a statement that smartphone makers “indicated a preference towards standards-based solutions” to bring satellite-to-phone connectivity to their devices. The chip maker added it’s discontinuing its effort with Iridium on the proprietary solution but continues to collaborate with the satellite communications company on standards-based solutions.
Qualcomm and Iridium end partnership on satellite-to-phone services
As many companies are working on satellite-to-phone services, Iridium announced it’s looking for new potential partners to work with. Iridium CEO Matt Desch said, “While I’m disappointed that this partnership didn’t bear immediate fruit, we believe the direction of the industry is clear toward increased satellite connectivity in consumer devices.”
Apple started the satellite-to-phone notion with the iPhone 14 series, followed by Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi. Qualcomm was also expected to join the race with Snapdragon Satellite, but the recent separation dimmed hopes. Qualcomm already brought satellite connectivity with its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, which is used in the Galaxy S23 series. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 also powers the majority of 2024 flagships.
Apple, Iridium, SpaceX, AT&T, T-Mobile, AST SpaceMobile, etc, have partnered on various projects to bring satellite smartphone connectivity. Satellite connectivity on mobiles is currently focused on providing SOS in emergencies.
T-Mobile customers can soon send messages from unreachable areas using Starlink satellites. The partnership could eliminate cellular dead zones and provide all-time, all-place connectivity. In the near future, every device could connect to Elon Musk’s Starlink for Internet and messaging.