Qualcomm Convenes Town Hall Meeting at Critical Juncture

At the market research and consulting firm CCS Insight, Boston-based analyst John Jackson says he views San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) as a company “that faces some tectonic shifts in an industry that used to be known as the telecom industry.”

Now telecom has converged with computing and the Internet, and Jackson says it’s all being driven by social media and online content. “All of Qualcomm’s customers—from Samsung to Apple—are in that business now,” Jackson says. “Whether they want to or not.”

But as computing moves into the post-desktop-PC era, Jackson says Qualcomm faces challenges in practically every facet of its business—which might be why the 2011 Qualcomm Town Hall meeting represents a critical juncture for the San Diego wireless giant. Jackson was invited to serve as the moderator and chief inquisitor in a discussion featuring three key Qualcomm executives: Paul Jacobs, the chairman and CEO; Steve Mollenkopf, president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT); and Matt Grob, senior vice president of engineering. The event begins with a reception tomorrow (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. at Qualcomm’s corporate headquarters, with the main event beginning at 6:30 p.m.

With more than 5 billion mobile devices being used worldwide, Jackson says Qualcomm faces intensifying competition from makers of both wireless radio chips and processors, and in terms of the chips used for graphic displays, video, and other digital media. Beyond the debate over Intel-based processors and ARM processors, and geeky arguments over CPU versus GPU designs, Jackson says Qualcomm also faces more fundamental questions over the role that any hardware maker can play in a market that is increasingly dominated by social media and content-based revenue streams.

“The money is going out of hardware,” Jackson says. “So the fundamental question is how or whether Qualcomm or any chipset maker can insert itself into the revenue stream that exists on our phones.” In other words, what is will the future relationship be between Qualcomm and—take your pick—Google, Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, and other social media giants?

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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