Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite, a service designed to rival Apple’s Emergency SOS, has been discontinued less than a year after its introduction.
Introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early 2023, Snapdragon Satellite was designed to enable Android smartphone users with Qualcomm hardware to connect to Iridium’s satellite network. This was particularly targeted for use in emergency situations. The service was expected to be available on smartphones equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and the X70 modem, promising to bring satellite connectivity to a range of high-end mobile devices.
However, the project hit a major roadblock. The lack of interest from smartphone manufacturers played a crucial role in its downfall. Despite the technical success of the Snapdragon Satellite, as acknowledged by Iridium, the mobile industry did not adopt the technology. The reasons behind this lack of adoption are not entirely clear, but it is speculated that the costs associated with implementing Snapdragon Satellite might have been prohibitively high.
The partnership’s dissolution was officially announced by Iridium, with Qualcomm severing ties in early November and the termination taking effect on December 3. This decision has left many in the industry surprised, considering the potential of the technology and the robustness of Iridium’s satellite network, which has been operational since the 1990s.
Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium, expressed disappointment over the termination of the partnership but remained optimistic about the future of satellite connectivity in consumer devices. He believes that the industry is moving towards greater satellite integration despite the setback with Snapdragon Satellite.
This development is a significant setback for Qualcomm, which had high hopes for Snapdragon Satellite. The project’s discontinuation suggests a reevaluation of the market’s readiness for such advanced connectivity solutions and raises questions about the future of satellite connectivity in the mobile device sector.