Broadcom has announced Android compatibility for its multifunction wireless combo chip, that packages WiFi, Bluetooth and FM radio capabilities on a single component.  The company has added drivers for its BCM4325 combo chip to the latest build of the Android platform, meaning that hardware manufacturers will be able to use one component for all three functions, rather than incorporate two or three separate chips as is required now.

By using a combo chip rather than individual components, handsets can be smaller, use less power, and have lower parts costs.  That, together with open-access to “portions” of the drivers for developers, will hopefully result in not only more compact and cheaper Android-based handsets, but a new generation of location-based, internet-connected apps to run on them.

Broadcom was one of the founding members of the Open Handset Alliance, the group initially formed to collaborate and promote the Android platform.  The company has not disclosed which manufacturers it’s working with on Android handsets. 

Press Release:

Broadcom Becomes First to Enable the Android Mobile Platform to Support Wireless Connectivity ‘Combo Chips’

Access to Broadcom’s BCM4325 Drivers Enables the Android Ecosystem to Support the Most Advanced Wireless Connectivity Solutions

IRVINE, Calif. – February 5, 2009 – Broadcom Corporation (Nasdaq: BRCM), a global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, today announced that the software that controls its industry-leading Wi-Fi®/Bluetooth®/FM combination solution is a standard component of the latest Android operating system. This is the first time that the Android platform includes native support for a multi-functional wireless connectivity solution (or “combo” chip). Open access to portions of Broadcom’s combo drivers provides Android developers with a head-start in designing mobile devices and applications that utilize the best in wireless connectivity solutions.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM technologies are becoming increasingly common in today’s mobile phones, enabling a variety of popular media and data applications. The current generation of Android-based handsets features both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but uses discrete components. The Broadcom® BCM4325 is the best-selling Bluetooth and Wi-Fi combo chip on the market, offering best-in-class space, power, cost and coexistence features. Adding Broadcom’s BCM4325 drivers to the Android platform simplifies the integration of these connectivity technologies and accelerates platform development cycles.

“Two of the most exciting trends in the handset industry are the growing popularity of Android and the transition to combo chips for connectivity,” said Chris Bergey, Director of Broadcom’s Embedded WLAN line of business. “As a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance, we are committed to advancing the Android platform by contributing our software and facilitating greater access to our combination chips in the open source community. We expect a plethora of products and applications to evolve from the connected Android platform in the not-so-distant future.”

The inherent benefits of multi-radio integration have changed the way many handset manufacturers think about connectivity features, which is driving significant growth for combo chips. According to IDC, a global market intelligence firm, combo chips will account for nearly 60 percent of connectivity solutions that ship into mobile phones by 2012. Broadcom was the first chipmaker to successfully combine Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM technologies on a single silicon die, and now offers the industry’s largest portfolio of wireless combo chips.

About the Android Platform
Developed by the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), Android is the first free and open mobile platform. It includes everything a manufacturer or operator needs to build a mobile phone, including an operating system, middleware and key mobile applications. Developers can take advantage of the comprehensive software stack to develop innovative applications and compelling services. By contributing to the Android platform, members of the OHA can make it easier for developers to distribute and commercialize their applications.

About Broadcom
Broadcom Corporation is a major technology innovator and global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications. Broadcom products enable the delivery of voice, video, data and multimedia to and throughout the home, the office and the mobile environment. We provide the industry’s broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art system-on-a-chip and software solutions to manufacturers of computing and networking equipment, digital entertainment and broadband access products, and mobile devices. These solutions support our core mission: Connecting everything®.

Broadcom is one of the world’s largest fabless semiconductor companies, with 2008 revenue of $4.66 billion, and holds over 3,100 U.S. and over 1,400 foreign patents, more than 7,600 additional pending patent applications, and one of the broadest intellectual property portfolios addressing both wired and wireless transmission of voice, video, data and multimedia.

Broadcom is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and has offices and research facilities in North America, Asia and Europe. Broadcom may be contacted at +1.949.926.5000 or at

[via GigaOm]