In Search of New Markets, Qualcomm Moves Uplinq to Silicon Valley

About 800 people flocked to the downtown San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina back in 2001, when Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) staged its first BREW developers conference. The San Diego-based company created BREW, an acronym for Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless, as a technology platform that would make it easier for independent programmers to create games, mapping services, and other programs for mobile phones and other wireless devices of the day.

The Wall Street Journal described it as “an ambitious move to assume a Microsoft-style role in the wireless industry.”

But last year, Qualcomm decided to back away from BREW—and this year the wireless giant is holding its annual developers conference outside of San Diego for the first time in 13 years.

So if the “Uplinq ” conference that Qualcomm is hosting next month in San Francisco isn’t all about BREW, what is it about? And why did the company move its big developers conference out of town?

In an invitation I received, Qualcomm bills this year’s Uplinq 2014 as the premier (and only OS-agnostic) mobile developer conference. When I asked why Qualcomm had moved Uplinq to downtown San Francisco, the official response was:

“We listened to the needs and interests of the developer and wireless communities and decided to move Uplinq 2014 to the Bay Area. As Uplinq 2014 is aimed at developers and technology providers, the move makes sense given the Bay Area boasts the largest concentration of high-tech companies, including Qualcomm.”

In other words, as mobile apps have moved increasingly to the iOS and Android platforms, Qualcomm decided to hold its conference in close proximity to Apple and Google—where the developer community is most concentrated—and where Qualcomm itself is estimated to now have about 2,000 employees.

While Qualcomm continues to support BREW, senior engineer Steve Sprigg wrote in a blog last year that the company had decided “to step back from aggressively pushing our BREW OS and app download business in favor of other emerging smartphone and tablet platforms.”

“Qualcomm is a big believer in … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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