Broadcom Adds Wireless Drivers To Android - InformationWeek

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2/5/2009
04:31 PM
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Broadcom Adds Wireless Drivers To Android

By including the drivers for combo chips in the Android platform, Broadcom is paving the way for handsets that are sleeker and use wireless connectivity.

Broadcom said Thursday it has included software to control its wireless combo chips in the standard Android platform.

Many smartphones have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM capabilities, but some still use separate chips to utilize these technologies. Broadcom has the largest portfolio of wireless chips that combine the three technologies on a single silicon die.

Integrating drivers for its chips directly into the Android platform should make it easier for handset manufacturers to have devices that feature strong multimedia and data applications. The move also will give Broadcom an advantage over its rivals, as it could save cell phone manufacturers on integration costs.

"Two of the most exciting trends in the handset industry are the growing popularity of Android and the transition to combo chips for connectivity," said Chris Bergey, director of Broadcom's embedded WLAN line of business, in a statement. "As a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance, we are committed to advancing the Android platform by contributing our software and facilitating greater access to our combination chips in the open source community. We expect a plethora of products and applications to evolve from the connected Android platform in the not-so-distant future."

Future Android handsets could benefit from this move from a design perspective as well. While the T-Mobile G1 has been relatively well-received, many said the somewhat-chunky exterior wasn't very appealing. By using combo chips, cell phone manufacturers could create sleeker Android handsets that may appeal to the casual consumer.

While the G1 is the only Android-powered handset available now, there will be a plethora of smartphones utilizing Google's mobile operating system by the end of the year. Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and HTC are all expected to release multiple devices on various carriers this year.

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