Interview: The BREW Difference
We sit down with Qualcomm's gaming group senior director Mike Yuen for the inside scoop on the company's BREW platform...
Mike Yuen has a lot to say about mobile gaming. As Senior Director of Qualcomm's gaming group, this should come as no surprise. During any given interview Yuen is likely to speak on the importance crossplatform design will play in the future growth of mobile gaming, why 3G networks and 3D titles are so important, the central role mobile handsets could play in developing countries, as well as an almost endless variety of other subjects.
When Modojo sat down with Yuen we decided to keep things simple, and talk instead about the ever-growing importance of Qualcomm's BREW platform to the mobile gaming industry. Yuen addressed where BREW has come from as well as where it's headed, as well as why mobile game developers who don't want to be left behind should look to the BREW solution.
A Comprehensive Solution
Yuen stressed that BREW was conceptualized and today remains much more than just a game development platform. The "BREW Solution" may have evolved from its 2001 beginnings, but even then Qualcomm had a comprehensive solution in mind.
"BREW was originally created as an end-to-end system that addressed all key pieces in the wireless data content value chain which includes operators, OEMs (handset/device manufacturers), content publishers and developers, and end consumers. It was originally launched in 2001 with KTF, a South Korean operator. Verizon Wireless launched in 2002," Yuen explained. "BREW was the industry's first complete system and one of the hallmarks of BREW is it provided an efficient mechanism for content providers to monetize their applications as well as operators. Dated stat here from June 2005, but as of this date we have paid out more than $350 million to publishers and developers... back in spring 2005 JAMDAT reported they were generating more than $1 million a month alone from their BREW games."
Yuen explained that Qualcomm later expanded what the BREW solution entailed. In its current form, BREW addresses UI, content delivery, and marketplace development issues.
"The BREW solution now consists of three main components," he explained. "uiOne: designed to enable rich integrated and dynamic user experiences, marketOne: Fully hosted delivery service with vibrant content marketplace, and deliveryOne: Open content delivery platform for operator integrated differentiation."
The Native Advantage
BREW's popularity as a mobile game development platform has been increasing at a rapid pace since its initial introduction. Yuen pointed out several reasons why BREW's adoption rate among mobile developers would continue to eat into Java's percentage as 3D titles become more and more commonplace.
"Bottom line is since BREW is a native environment and not an interpreted one like Java, it provides superior performance. As the baseline of minimum technology in handsets continues to move up - Moore's Law in action - technology such as 3D and more advanced audio will be essentially 'free' in handsets/devices for game publishers and developers to take advantage of," Yuen said. "We're now starting to see the more traditional console/PC developers coming into mobile in a bigger way, and for these types of developers they look to push the envelope. Since BREW is native and we'll be supporting standards like OpenGL ES and hardware acceleration in our chipsets moving forward, there are development efficiencies that can be realized by developers that work across platforms (console, PC, dedicated handheld like PSP/DS, and wireless/mobile)."
Yuen also noted that BREW's standardized and ever-improving development tools, and the dent they can put in porting and QA time, as another key advantage BREW has over Java.
"BREW offers a consistent API and development platform so cuts down on porting costs as publishers/developers work to launch their titles on literally thousands of SKUs for a global launch - these cost savings are direct benefits for them that they realize with BREW."
Brewing up a Bright Future
Yuen was tight-lipped regarding the future of the BREW platform, stating announcements would be forthcoming at Qualcomm's BREW 2006 conference, taking place May 31 - June 2 in San Diego.
"From a gaming standpoint, we continue to work to evangelize the benefits of BREW gaming globally as well as drive its adoption - if you come to BREW 2006 we can provide you another update on our progress. Rome wasn't built in a day as they say," Yuen said.
The company is expected update its June 2005 figure of $350 million paid out to publishers at the show, as well.