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AT&T Makes Surprising Commitment To Qualcomm's BREW

Today AT&T announced that it will soon bring to market and support handsets running Qualcomm's BREW platform. This is a huge shift for AT&T, which has strategically relied on Java for its feature phones.
Today AT&T announced that it will soon bring to market and support handsets running Qualcomm's BREW platform. This is a huge shift for AT&T, which has strategically relied on Java for its feature phones.This is a big win for Qualcomm. BREW's future has been somewhat clouded, with Verizon, Qualcomm's main BREW partner, distancing itself from the feature phone platform in recent months. During its developers conference today in Las Vegas, AT&T made the shocking announcement that it is going to use BREW, too.

AT&T said in a prepared statement


De la Vega announced a significant new agreement with Qualcomm to standardize apps development by adopting BREW Mobile Platform. With this agreement, AT&T intends to make BREW Mobile Platform its primary operating system platform for Quick Messaging Devices, one of the company's fastest growing categories of devices.

AT&T customers with these devices historically haven't had the same convenient access as AT&T smartphone customers to thousands of compelling, new applications. Since AT&T launched its pioneering line-up of Quick Messaging Devices in fall 2008, about 30 percent of the company's postpaid customers who are new or upgrading have purchased this type of device. AT&T is committed to spurring innovation and apps development for the millions of customers in this category.

Quick Messaging Devices are integrated devices that are value priced and texting centric; they have full QWERTY keyboards, either physical or virtual, and, since this past fall, full Web browsing capabilities. Customers with these devices are more likely to demand apps, subscribe to messaging and data plans, and are a large potential market for application developers, according to AT&T research.

AT&T Chief Marketing Officer David Christopher announced plans to begin rolling out Quick Messaging Devices with BREW Mobile Platform in the second half of the year, so that by year end 2011, about 90 percent of AT&T's devices in this segment are planned to be based on BREW Mobile Platform. AT&T announced that Samsung will be its first device maker to launch a Quick Messaging Device featuring BREW Mobile Platform. HTC, LG and Pantech also are building devices featuring BREW Mobile Platform for planned availability in late 2010 or early 2011.

This is a major change-up for AT&T. It said that it will continue to support Java-based phones, though BREW is clearly going to be its focus moving forward.

BREW has been used by Verizon for years. Qualcomm's BREW ecosystem is well defined and supported by developers. Its additional products, such as Plaza Retail, will help provide AT&T with instant apps stores, in a sense, for feature phones.