Qualcomm's plea this week to start referring to its Snapdragon processors as the Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform reminds me of my early days at Network World when every vendor insisted it was selling a "solution" and not a switch or router or server.
Interviews often went something like this:
"So what is your company announcing today?"
"Yeah, but what is it? Is it a router? Is it a switch? Is it software? Is it hardware? Is it a service?"
"It's a solution."
Qualcomm's solution to people underestimating all that its Snapdragon processors do, and to distinguish them from lower-end products in its line, is to introduce a "new naming structure" to, you guessed it, "represent [our] full suite of solutions."
And that naming structure is indeed the Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platform, with the term Platform being a slight twist on the term Solution in my book.
We get what Qualcomm VP of Marketing Don McGuire is saying in his blog post on this issue. The company's processors are indeed more than processors and yes, the term "is an inadequate representation of what the technology actually is." But we all nevertheless pretty much know what we're talking about when we call them processors.
Qualcomm explains that its Snapdragon is really a system on a chip that includes a modem, CPU, GPU and 802.11 Wi-Fi support as well as fingerprint and other technologies used to power and enable today's mobile devices.
Word of Qualcomm's brand adjustment predictably has been greeted with a slew of headlines that I detect include a whiff of mockery. For example: "Qualcomm doesn't want you to call its Snapdragon processors 'processors' anymore" (TechCrunch) and "Qualcomm doesn't want you to call its Snapdragon processors, er, processors" (The Inquirer).
The whole episode brings to mind the more copyediting-stringent days of tech journalism, when vendor reps would huffily request changes to stories in which an inane capital letter was lowercased in the middle of a company or product name. Or even in Cisco's case, where it used to insist on starting its name with a lowercase "c", or in Yahoo's case, where it urged inclusion of an exclamation point at the end of its name that in retrospect does seem rather appropriate now.
I'll do my best to try to remember to refer to Qualcomm's processors as platforms, though I might be tempted to reach for my online thesaurus to vary my prose a bit. Snapdragon Mobile Podium, Snapdragon Mobile Belvedere and Snapdragon Mobile Rostrum are among the options offered up.
(Whew, I just interviewed a Qualcomm VP last week and am relieved to see that I didn't use the term processors at all in my article!)