Qualcomm told it must hand over info to Korea

Qualcomm has said that it will begin sharing information with South Korean companies to allow them to develop software for its chips.

The move is expected to cut off a source of additional profit for the company, which in the past has kept its software proprietary and forced manufacturers and developers to depend on it without the prospect of a third-party tool.

According to Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC), Qualcomm will begin to give out the information within the next two to 10 months.

It will open an application digital signal processor (ADSP) interface so that third parties can develop mobile multimedia software that can be used on its modem chip, for which it has exclusive rights. The interface helps to compress and convert computer files into moving images, making it possible to receive video and other types of content on a mobile phone.

Qualcomm is not doing this out of the goodness of its heart. The decision is a result of a lengthly investigation by Korea’s FTC. Last year it was fined  a record $236 million after it was found that the company was making customers buy its software by keeping data exclusive. It was also rapped for other discriminatory acts that included charging higher royalties to some customers.

However, it was keeping the mobile-chip software information exclusive that was Qualcomm’s downfall and kick started the original investigation.