Why Computing Guys Don’t Get Mobile: Qualcomm’s Bill Davidson on Modems, Power Constraints, and Scarce Spectrum Resources

The pace of wireless innovation can get bewildering at times, and a spate of recent announcements from San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) has seemed more like a blur of racing machines in the Indy 500 than anything else. Since Qualcomm also happens to be hosting its annual shareholders meeting today, it seemed like an ideal time for an overview of the company’s mobile technology development.

Bill Davidson, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of global marketing and investor relations, provided my briefing. Davidson says the new initiatives—which ranged from new peer-to-peer technology for mobile devices to Qualcomm’s next-generation processors—will help the company fulfill its basic goal of making mobile communications faster and better. And he seemed especially keen to address what he called “over marketing” by unnamed rivals coming out of the computing industry.

Bill Davidson

What follows is an edited and condensed account of our discussion, which began with my request for him to explain the significance of Qualcomm’s introduction of the next-generation Snapdragon processor architecture.

Bill Davidson: In the Snapdragon announcements it’s really just about extending the lead we have there, and continuing to press on the integration story leading to better performance. The next generation of Snapdragon will have 150 percent better performance at 65 percent less power than the other ARM solutions [Advanced RISC Machine] that are out in the market. The reason for that is that we have our own micro-architecture. There are other ARM licensees that just license what they get from ARM… We actually have a bit of a different license from ARM; it’s an architectural license. That allows us to build our own micro-architecture.

My view of it is this: You’ve got people coming from the computing side who are … 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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