Friday, February 17, 2012

Nvidia aims for $160 dual-core smartphones

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Current mobile tech news centered around Nvidia generally focuses on quad-core Tegra 3 phones and tablets, but the company’s ambitions go deeper than flashy, top-end devices. Nvidia wants a piece of the budget market, too, and they’re hoping $160 phones will do the trick.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made the revelation during an earnings call recently. Instead of the cutting-edge Tegra 3 chip, these low-priced phones would utilize the last-gen Tegra 2 platform and an inexpensive 3G modem. That type of hardware isn’t going to raise a chorus of cheers from tech-savvy gadget buyers, but this push is all about developing accessible handsets for emerging markets and those with tighter budgets.

If Nvidia is able to get handset manufacturers to play ball, however, those folks should actually be able to pick up some decent phones. The Tegra 2 is a very capable chip, and it’s certainly a big upgrade over the 800Mhz or 1GHz single-core Snapdragons you find in most current $0 (contract) Android phones.

And at $160, these new Tegra 2 Androids would be selling for about half the off-contract price of existing low-end models.

The fact that Nvidia wants to expand its reach in the mobile sector shouldn’t come as a surprise. These budget Tegra 2 phones closely mirror the plans laid out by Microsoft and Nokia for their upcoming Windows Phone Tango devices. The idea is to get low-cost smartphones into the hands of folks who are currently buying featurephones instead — thereby extending the platform’s presence and enticing additional users to make purchases from their app stores and sign up for additional services.

For Nvidia, of course, it’s all about selling more chips.

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