Qualcomm CEO calls out the competition in Constantinople

While Intel was delivering its annual IDF conference, light on content this year according to industry watchers, the company it secretly thinks is the “most disruptive” – Qualcomm – was reassuring investors at IQ 2011 at the Ciragan Palace, Istanbul.

A brief walk around the Ciragon Palace’s grounds indicates Qualcomm’s marketing budget. Although it was slow to ramp up its PR, clearly it has the means to splash cash on impressing by way of an ex-Ottoman palace.

CEO Paul Jacobs, or Doctor Death as he isn’t known to the competition, told a roomful of people in Europe just why Qualcomm is leading the way in putting the shakes on everyone else in the industry. Its relatively quick rise to becoming king in mobile – ahead of, say trusted sources in the chip industry, ARM in terms of its ability to disrupt – has seen its R&D budget rack up a bill of $15.5 billion in the course of its existence. Now, Jacobs says, that spend is roughly $2.5 billion each year. It’s still peanuts compared to some but shows no signs of slowing. 

Jacobs claims that the process is cyclical. The consumer spends the dough, that money goes into the company, and the company does its best to innovate in mobile technology. Jacobs says Qualcomm wants to improve our standard of living through mobile, whether that’s streaming high definition TV episodes or through health monitoring.

Like everyone else in the industry it knows batery life is an area where it counts most. Especially in emerging economies, which Qualcomm hinted at strongly, saying growth in that area – where it’s more likely you’ll get internet through a phone than a fixed connection – is where the money is.

“Mobile is now the dominant computing platform,” says Jacobs. “It’s not the future of computing, the present day of computing is mobile.”

Jacobs went on to explain the Atheros buy. If you take away the connectivity from a personal computer, it loses its efficiency, which we can certainly attest to as we weren’t able to get online for the entire trip.

The smartphone “is a trend everyone knows about,” Jacobs said, and it is a key segment of devices. Reeling off some stats, he said the numbers are “staggering”, with four billion sold penned in by 2015 according to analyst figures. And that growth will come from the sub 300 dollar segment, which Qualcomm is very keen to push. 

“We will get to 50 dollar smartphones, we have a roadmap for all of these things,” Jacobs said. In a clear call-out to certain competitors, Jacobs mentions that the Qualcomm roadmap “spans between the highest end devices down to the lower end for that broader base of customers,” and boasted Qualcomm “can show to our competition that these processors work better”.