Nvidia is building its own handheld Android game console — tentatively called Project Shield — but it sounds like rival mobile chipmaker Qualcomm isn't interested in pursuing a similar venture. We asked Qualcomm's Snapdragon boss Raj Talluri about the idea during DICE 2013, and he told us there wasn't a need. For one thing, he believes that Android gaming devices will surface all on their own — "We usually try not to compete with our customers," he explains — but for another, he laughed off his rivals' idea of needing a dedicated Android device for games.
"I don't need to make a box," he tells us, holding up a large smartphone. "I just need Moga to make a controller. I can't see too much difference between that and the [Project Shield]. It seems to do everything the Tegra 4 one does!" he laughs.
"Nvidia may want to do those products, but we don't."
While that might sound exactly like the stance you'd expect from Nvidia's rival — and perhaps a subtle dig at Microsoft's Surface line — the reason we asked is because Qualcomm actually has a rather incredible precedent building such a device. In 1998, Qualcomm built the pdQ, one of the first smartphones in the United States, working with Palm after Apple turned down a deal. While the pdQ was short lived, its legacy included the Kyocera QCP 6035 SmartPhone and the VisorPhone, which in turn gave birth to the Treo. You could say that Qualcomm bootstrapped the smartphone era, in a way, and it seems like that's what Nvidia is trying to do with Android gaming.
To be clear, Talluri does indeed think that mobile gaming is the future, that we'll inevitably see Android devices that look more like game systems than phones, and with Qualcomm processors inside. And he's in a position to know: Talluri works on products up to three years out at any given time. "I think the market will happen, and I think our customers will make those products happen. I've seen a lot of different products people are building," he assures us.
"Everyone tries to find a niche where they make something specific for an application. Right now Android gaming is just beginning to happen, because the performance really needed to drive a nice 1080p screen game is just finally here."
Gaming isn't the only hardware niche he sees coming, though. Augmented reality glasses, like Google's Project Glass, are attracting interest from hardware manufacturers as well. "We build them... there are quite a few, actually! You'd be surprised how many people are thinking about that."
What does he think?
"Personally, I already have a hard time wearing funny-looking glasses," he laughs.