Qualcomm Throws Up Some Big Numbers, Sees Double-Digit Growth Ahead

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the key blocks of technology, including the radio, modem, processors, and other technologies. The company says mobile device manufacturers are now shipping more than 70 devices equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, another 500 Snapdragon-equipped devices have been announced, and more than 400 designs are in development.

“Our strategy in one sentence is to try to set the bar for the industry,” Mollenkopf told the analysts. By owning the key technologies embedded on the Snapdragon chip, Mollenkopf said, “We have the ability to make key tech tradeoffs in the combination of technology blocks. We can put it together in a package that would be difficult to replicate, and we can do it across different tiers.”

Another key advantage is the technology Qualcomm uses to stay connected. As Mollenkopf put it, “Mobility is increasingly about the modem and connectivity,” he said. Complexity represents another leverage point, since Qualcomm designs its flagship processor to connect to more than three dozen radio bands and across a variety of wireless networking standards. “It’s a very complicated problem.” Mollenkopf said, but managing that complexity also enables Qualcomm to separate itself further from its competitors.

“We are essentially trying to use our scale to drive a performance level that would be very difficult to follow,” Mollenkopf said. “Unless you’re a large AP player it will be harder and harder to keep pace with us at the performance levels where we’re operating.”

Qualcomm leaders said they also have been working to address “the 1,000x data challenge”—by combining improvements in network efficiency, small base stations, and radio spectrum to help prepare by a 1,000-fold growth in wireless data traffic.

To accomplish that kind of growth, the company has been developing wireless femtocell base stations, about the size of an average smartphone. The low cost, small size, and easy deployment will help to the “extreme densification” of cellular networks possible.

A massive deployment of densified networks could carry most of the traffic needed to increase data traffic by 1,000x, Jacobs said. A key technical hurdle, however, is addressing radio interference created by small base stations in dense markets. It’s a problem that Qualcomm has been working to solve for the past decade.

Nevertheless, Jacobs says, “When it comes to small cells, I’m completely convinced this is the way the network gets rolled out over the next five years.”

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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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