Broadcomm BCM2157

About a week ago, Broadcomm announced their latest concoction -- the BCM2157.  With this chip, manufacturers can add a shell, a screen, and some memory and have a pre-built Android phone.  Goodbye steep engineering costs, hello dual-core, low power, turnkey solutions.  The news is pretty exciting for geeky folks like we are (and be sure to check out the source links for the technical details), but what exactly does this mean for everyone else?  If you think like Seth Weintraub at, you reach the logical conclusion -- Android is poised to take the entire feature phone / low-end smartphone market away from Nokia with an army of sub-hundred dollar handsets.  Not $100 after contract and rebates, but a hundred bucks out the door, with no strings attached.  This is what Google VP of Engineering and Android head honcho Andy Rubin has referred to as "a perfect storm".

The idea isn't that far-fetched.  You can already pick up a pretty feature-rich handset for $180.00 -- the Virgin Mobile branded Samsung Intercept.  Halve the cost of the internals, practically do away with the cost of designing a working system, and the magical $100 Android phone certainly sounds like it's coming.  And while some of us will turn up our nose at another round of entry level devices, one particular group surely won't -- Android application developers.  When Android device sales creep up on the billion served mark, the Android Market will literally explode as software developers, both large and small, grab their slice of the pie.  I, for one, can't wait. [; Broadcomm]


Reader comments

Are $100 Android handsets the future of mobile?


Good lord, the days of children with cellphones are coming full-force. This sounds great, but at the same time some of the implications are a little scary. But for developers, as you've mentioned, it's a great time indeed. I guess we shall see how it all plays out.

Hmm...interesting to say the least. 2011 will be huge for Android. The most interesting part about this is that it hopefully means these $100 Android phones will be totally stock Android, since it's just barebones components.

If cellphones are sold by the manufacturer, it will be possible. Google did something similar by trying to sell the Nexus One online and NOT at ATT, T-Mobile, etc.

The days of getting a phone under contract are numbered.

You will end up buying data only plans, with zero minutes. Skype and Google Voice solutions will be the norm.

If the real cost of a handset is less than 100 buck carriers will simply give it to you.

I would be ok with this. I almost never make calls with my Epic. If I could just get a data plan, I totally would. Then if I needed to make a call for some reason, I could just use Skype and pay for what I use. It's kind of sad that I pay for 450 minutes a month, and I think the most I've used in the last 6 months is 70 minutes.

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that cheap, non-sucky Android tablets have been right around the corner for over a year now? Where are they? There's the so-so Tab which is stupidly expensive; a bunch of crap ones with something retarded like Android v1.76b, or resistive underpowered Chinese shit like the Next branded one. I'm very interested in a cheap, powerful, unbranded (ie no carrier shite delaying upgrades for 4 months) tablet, but I'll believe it when I see it, and $100? Phooey on that - it's not going to happen.

They need to standardize the screen resolution and minimum operating speed- I work with WAY TOO MANY developers that say they'll never support Android as long as there's fragmentation (man I want to scream). I keep saying just target the top tier phones as those are the only people who would pay .99 for an app anyway ... but no one listens. As long as cheap android phones are too different from the high end- we'll never see an app market with the penetration of idevices from that fruit company.

It's never going to work that way. Android is open source, not "open source only if you build something our way". US consumers need to learn to vote with their wallet, and not be afraid of choice.

There is no fragmentation issue in Android. Anyone is free to go and purchase a phone like the Nexus S, that will support anything and everything in the operating system. But people choose not to, instead they buy something that a carrier has decided what it can and can not do, then deny the fact that they had a choice. It's like complaining that your eMachines laptop won't play Starcraft II, when other Windows computers can and do.

Sorry Jerry, I stopped listening to you at "no fragmentation in android." Is you answer really that there is no fragmentation if we all buy the new off contact dev phone? Huh, that's an interesting argument. until 11 months go by and there is another select dev phone that everyone must have for $500+ to avoid "fragmentation"

Or you stop buying phones that someone else decides when you can update them. It's up to you. The G1 is a perfect example of keeping a phone current, and I fully expect the Nexus One to hang around for at least another year :)
As long as you're willing to sign a contract to get your device cheaper, you're giving up a big chunk of your power as a consumer. You're telling a carrier that you want them to decide what your phone can run, when it can get updates, and how long it will remain "current" in exchange for a couple hundred dollars off of the device. When a customer buys something on contract like this, they're telling a carrier that what they really want is a CHEAP handset that does some cool stuff. And yes, if you want to be on the cutting edge of devices, you'll need to buy a phone once a year, period. Cellphone tech is a lot like computer tech was in the 90's. It's improving my leaps and bounds, not incrementally. That doesn't mean your one year old phone is useless, it's just not the top dog anymore. If you want cellphone to have better upgrade paths and reduce the "Fragmentation" you hate, then you have to stop handing over purchasing power to carriers for the sake of contracts.
It shouldn't have to be said, but I should clarify that when I'm talking about "You" here, I'm talking about the consumer, not a specific person.

You can get several different Android phones for $100 or less (even free in some cases) but that's with a 2 year contract. What we are talking about here is being able to just buy a phone outright for $100 without having to sign a contract. Right now most Android phones cost $400-$500 or more if you want to buy one without a contract.

EXACTLY. The Huawei Ascend from MetroPCS is OFF contract and is $99. NO contract.

Why are you (kd0axs) mentioning 2-year contracst? The point of the Menoetios post was the $100 Android off contract phone is ALREADY HERE. You are trying to negate his point and you are wrong.

You can't have choice, if everything is the same, on every phone. We'd be stuck with one price, one style, one screen size, one resolution, etc. Sound familiar? Does some fragmentation exist? Yes. Is it an issue? No! Devs have to adapt to choice. Some have gotten lazy, and that is the real issue.

Funny, my Captivate was only $80 at dell mobility. True, it comes with an annoying contract, but I've been with AT&T for 4 years now so that doesn't really bother me...

Yet you're paying what $80 a month on your ATT plan and Im paying $25 a month for my Virgin plan. Yea I don't really see ATT as such a bargain. You spend $600 a year more than you need to. My cash is needed for other things.