Qualcomm CEO Sees Company Driving Wave of Mobile Internet Innovation

Some people in the audience began to gasp audibly as Qualcomm chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs neared the end of his presentation at the San Diego wireless company’s annual shareholders’ meeting yesterday. The exclamations came about 40 minutes into Jacobs’ address, as he began explaining how various aspects of Qualcomm’s technology are expected to come together.

In a not-too distant future, Jacobs said, people will be able to send a photo from their smart phone with a flick of their finger to the big digital picture frame above the fireplace mantel (gasp!). Then, let’s say you meet someone at a dinner party, Jacobs said. You can use your smart phone to check out her profile on her social networking site (hmmmm). And if you go shopping the next day, you could use the shopping preferences listed on her profile to buy her a gift—perhaps a black cocktail dress (gasp!). Or if you find it at a cheaper price on the Web, you could just buy it online and send it to her (gasp!).

Considering the number of retirees in the audience, it was hard to tell if they thought Jacobs’ scenario was forward thinking—or just forward. Such things already are possible, but it was clear from the CEO’s presentation that he envisions such broadband-intensive capabilities will soon be far more pervasive—and that Qualcomm is in a unique position to bring different technical capabilities together to make them a commonplace reality.

Qualcomm put its modem in the Amazon Kindle e-reader, it supplies its Snapdragon processor for the NexusOne Google phone, and it’s technology runs throughout the wireless network infrastructure. As Jacobs puts it, Qualcomm now ranks No. 6 (up from No. 8 in 2008) among all the semiconductor, computer processor, and memory chipmakers on the planet. It is the world’s No. 1 fabless semiconductor company, the No. 1 wireless RFIC (radio frequency integrated circuit) company, and has long been the No. wireless chipmaker. And as a result of this leadership position, Jacobs says Qualcomm can afford to lower the prices of its chips and other wireless technology components—even in the teeth of an economic downturn.

“We are the ones driving this,” Jacobs says. “We are the ones who are putting pressure on our competitors through lower pricing.”

Even in last year’s challenging economic … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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