Qualcomm is to launch a device next quarter aimed at enabling developers to maximise the performance of their applications running over Snapdragon chipsets. Tagged as the Snapdragon Mobile Development Platform (MDP), the device will cost US$995 and run the chip giant’s 1GHz MSM8655 chipset.

“This is a new move for us,” said Tia Cassett, senior director, business development at Qualcomm. “It will help developers by giving them early access to the technology, so they have a time to market advantage. Because it’s a full feature device developers can use it to test our MDP against commercial devices to see how their apps are performing.” Cassett noted that Qualcomm’s previous efforts in this space involved the launch of “larger, non-multimedia devices intended for RF interoperability testing.” She added that “this is our first development project in this area… it’s not intended to be a commercial device, but will give developers early access to our chipset.”

Qualcomm’s official spec on the device is that it boasts a “sleek smartphone form-factor,” 3.8-inch high-definition WVGA multi-touch capacitive touchscreen, two cameras (including a 12MP main camera), embedded accelerometer and gyroscope, and Qualcomm’s newest graphics engine (Adreno 205). Although the spec sheet says it supports either Android or the Brew Mobile Platform, Cassett told Mobile Apps Briefing that “Android is the community we are primarily trying to leverage with this device” while Windows and Brew are also on the company’s radar. Other features include 720p HD video and HDMI output.

Cassett said the MDP is aimed at developers globally (particularly gaming and social networking developers), although she admitted that the thousand-dollar price tag may make it “a little expensive for the guy in the garage.”

Software firm Bsquare will begin selling the device in the fourth quarter, and Cassett stressed that it is “the first of many… We want to continue to improve this program. The whole developer ecosystem is something we are putting a lot of emphasis on in the next couple of years.” Indeed, there are already plans to release a new version of the MDP – based on Qualcomm’s dual-core MSM8660 chipset – in the first half of 2011.

Justin Springham and Richard Handford