An Israeli start-up company has won a deal to install its communications chipset in the new Google/HP produced Chromebooks, the Times of Israel has reported.
According to Eran Eshed, CEO of the Hod Hasharon-based company Altair Semiconductor, “the deal pushes Altair Semiconductor, which makes nothing but 4G (LTE) chipsets for devices, into a whole new league. This is a really big deal for us, and for 4G in general.”
The 4G, which is commonly referred to as the LTE (Long Term Evolution) communications standard, is the gold standard in cellphone data communications. Most cell devices currently rely on the 3G (the G in each term refers to generation) standard.
“But with speeds up to ten times faster than those available with 3G, more device manufacturers are coming out with products that support 4G,” the Times of Israel has reported.
4G is still considered a market for the future, which is one reason why the biggest cellphone chip makers, including Qualcomm the biggest, have let a start-up like Altair gain such a strong foothold in the market. Until now, Eshed told the Times of Israel, “it’s still a much smaller market than 3G, and it hasn’t been big enough for Qualcomm to try and compete with us until now. After this deal, I think that will change.”
Chromebooks are the cloud-connected notebooks based on Google’s Chrome operating system, which run Google apps (such as Google Docs and Google Spreadsheet), with most of the data stored on Google servers. Most Chromebook models until now have utilized wifi as their main communication protocol since you have to be online to both access and use the data efficiently.
Despite the limitations a Wifi requirement might create, Eshed claims that Chromebooks are popular sellers. “Google doesn’t announce official figures, but from what I gather about 10% of notebooks shipped last year were Chromebooks, and 20% of all notebooks sold to education institutions were Chromebooks.”
The Times of Israel attributes the popularity of the Chromebooks to the pricing; they average between $250 and $500, which makes them perhaps the most reasonably priced notebooks on the market for the power and capabilities that is being provided.
When the new Chromebooks by Google and HP, utilizing the Altair FourGee-3100/6202 chipset,hit the market, Eshed predicted that “with 4G you will be able to connect from anywhere at super-fast speeds, and that speed, combined with the price factor, means that these Chromebooks will be big sellers.”
The missing link in this formula is a network that can provide the 4G services the Chromebook requires. For their efforts, it has been reported that Altair, Google, and HP are working on a deal with Verizon to provide 4G connections for purchasers of the new Chromebooks. “Verizon’s 4G network extends throughout the country, available throughout its coverage area,” said Eshed. “So all the factors are in place for a big surge of Chromebook sales.”