The idea of displaying 3D graphics or maps that can be zoomed in and out is certainly
nothing new. In fact, any bargain computer can easily handle these types of functions.
However, displaying them on a cell phone is another story. 3D animation and maps are
among the applications being developed for BREW, an operating system (OS) being proposed
by Qualcomm for the next generation of cell phones.
BREW (Binary Operating Environment for Wireless) is Qualcommís entry in the already heated
OS debate for next generation handheld devices and cell phones. Microsoft, Intel, HP and
Sun Microsystems are all backing different operating systems that they each are developing
or involved with.
Qualcomm is offering a free set of developer tools for the platform, which will be
available sometime this summer. Current projects underway in the developer community
include 3D animation and maps that can zoom in and out at as needed. Itís also been
announced that additional software currently in development includes electronic book
readers and streaming video viewers for cell phones.
Qualcomm has given a public demonstration of an e-mail reader that works without having to
log on to any kind of network, something that is basically unheard of using traditional
technology. Other applications include enhanced mobile chat rooms and instant messaging
without the need for a web browser. Most of the existing applications along these lines
involve a Web browser of some sort that considerably slows down the communication process.
By showcasing these types of advancements, Qualcomm is hoping not only to attract consumer
interest in its platform but perhaps more importantly, developers. After all, if many
people write software for a platform, itís more attractive for the end users.
Although the BREW package appears to be impressive, Qualcomm has some catching up to do.
They are the last entry into the game and with Sun leading the way. They may have started
a little too late especially if you consider that Sun is targeting Java, a platform with
over 2 million developers already using it.
Qualcomm has developed server software called QIS Middleware that will authenticate
applications that have passed compatibility testing, distribute these applications to
carrier networks, handle end-user application downloads, and manage billing transactions
for developers and carriers. The Company expects to sign agreements with carriers under
which Qualcomm will charge a BREW fee and receive a portion of the fees paid by end users
for BREW-enabled applications.
It remains to be seen if Qualcomm will ultimately be successful in this endeavor. Itís
certain that they have very difficult competition to overcome with several industry giants
standing in their way. That being said, the BREW OS appears to be up to the challenge.