|1985; 32 years ago (1985)
San Diego, California, U.S.
|San Diego, California, U.S.|
|Paul E. Jacobs
|CDMA/WCDMA chipsets, Snapdragon , BREW, OmniTRACS, MediaFLO, QChat, mirasol displays, uiOne, Gobi, Qizx|
|US$23.55 billion (2016)|
|US$6.31 billion (2016)|
|US$5.70 billion (2016)|
|US$52.35 billion (2016)|
|US$31.77 billion (2016)|
Qualcomm is an American multinational semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company that designs and markets wireless telecommunications products and services. It derives most of its revenue from chipmaking and the bulk of its profit from patent licensing businesses. The company headquarters is located in San Diego, California, United States, and has 224 worldwide locations. The parent company is Qualcomm Incorporated (Qualcomm), which includes the Qualcomm Technology Licensing Division (QTL). Qualcomm's wholly owned subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI), operates substantially all of Qualcomm's R&D activities, as well as its product and services businesses, including its semiconductor business, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies.
Qualcomm was founded in 1985 by Cornell and MIT alumnus and UC San Diego professor Irwin M. Jacobs, USC, MIT alumnus Andrew Viterbi, Harvey White, Adelia Coffman, Andrew Cohen, Klein Gilhousen and Franklin Antonio. Jacobs and Viterbi had previously founded Linkabit. Qualcomm's first products and services included the OmniTRACS satellite locating and messaging service, used by long-haul trucking companies, developed from a product called Omninet owned by Izak Parviz Nazarian, Younes Nazarian, and Neil Kadisha, and specialized integrated circuits for digital radio communications such as a Viterbi decoder and now it is one of the leading processor makers for smartphone companies.
In 1990, Qualcomm began the design of the first CDMA-based cellular base station, based upon calculations derived from the CDMA-based OmniTRACS satellite system. This work began as a study contract from AirTouch which was facing a shortage of cellular capacity in Los Angeles. Two years later Qualcomm began to manufacture CDMA cell phones, base stations and chips. The initial base stations were not reliable and the technology was licensed wholly to Nortel in return for their work in improving the base station switching. The first CDMA technology was standardized as IS-95. Qualcomm has since helped to establish the CDMA2000, WCDMA and LTE cellular standards.
The following year, Qualcomm acquired Eudora, an email client for PC that could be used with the OmniTRACS system. The acquisition associated a widely used email client with a company that was little-known at the time.
In 1999, Qualcomm sold its base station business to Ericsson, and later, sold its cell phone manufacturing business to Kyocera. The company was now focused on developing and licensing wireless technologies and selling ASICs that implement them.
Steve Mollenkopf was promoted to president and chief operating officer of the company, effective November 12, 2011. Mollenkopf's appointment as CEO was announced on December 13, 2013 and took effect on March 4, 2014. He succeeded Paul E. Jacobs, who remains executive chairman.
CFO Bill Keitel retired and was replaced by Applied Materials CFO George Davis on March 11, 2013.
Vista Equity Partners took over the Omnitracs business from Qualcomm Incorporated in November 2013.
In November 2014, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf announced at the company’s annual analyst day meeting held in New York City that the company is planning to target the data center market with new server chips based on the ARM architecture and plans to make them commercially available by the end of 2015.
From 2012 to 2014, Qualcomm saw substantial revenue and profit growth as its Snapdragon System-on-Chip took market share from other competitors such as Texas Instruments' OMAP and Nvidia's Tegra to become the de facto standard for Android smartphones, and for a while Qualcomm's market capitalization surpassed that of Intel. However, surprised by the release of the 64-bit Apple A7 in September 2013, Qualcomm had to quickly come up with its own competing 64-bit chip. Qualcomm's resulting Snapdragon 810 and 808, which used generic ARM cores instead of their own custom-designed cores, were not well received due to overheating and performance problems, which led to large customers like Samsung opting to use their in-house Exynos processor instead. Furthermore, Qualcomm was facing anti-trust investigations in China, the European Union, and the United States. The combination of these pressures caused a significant fall in Qualcomm's profits and stock price in 2015.
In July 2015, the company cut 4,700 jobs or about 15 percent of its 31,300 current workforce due to decline of sales. Executive management knew this was coming so they came up with a plan to retain its employees. However, instead of paying reasonable salary, executive management used this plan as a justification to give themselves a big payout first and then lay off employees later.
In December 2015, Qualcomm Inc. announced that it had rejected calls to split itself in two, deciding to keep its chipmaking and patent licensing businesses together.
In April 2017, the company received approval from U.S. antitrust regulators for the proposed acquisition of NXP Semiconductors for $47 billion, with the waiting period under the Hart–Scott–Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act expiring.
On June 20, 2017, Qualcomm announced a strategic investment in Amionx, a Carlsbad company that has developed technology to prevent fires and explosions in lithium-ion batteries. The amount of the investment was not disclosed. Qualcomm President Derek Aberle will join Amionx's board of directors.
|000000001997-11-01-0000November 1997||Now Software||Calendar and scheduling software||Not disclosed|
|000000002000-01-01-0000January 2000||SnapTrack||Cell-phone tracking software||$1 billion|
|000000002001-03-01-0000March 2001||FleetAdvisor||Fleet management software||Not disclosed|
|000000002004-09-01-0000September 2004||Iridigm Display Corporation||Display technology||$170 million|
|000000002004-09-01-0000September 2004||Spike Technologies||Semiconductor design services||$19 million|
|000000002004-10-01-0000October 2004||Trigenix||Cell phone user interface tools and apps||$36 million|
|000000002005-08-01-0000August 2005||Elata||Mobile content software||$57 million|
|000000002005-08-01-0000August 2005||Flarion||Wireless Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex Access||$600 million|
|000000002006-01-01-0000January 2006||Barkana Wireless Inc.||Radio frequency circuits||$56 million|
|000000002006-08-01-0000August 2006||Qualphone||IP-based Multimedia Subsystems (IMS)||$18 million|
|000000002006-11-01-0000November 2006||nPhase||machine-to-machine (M2M) software||Not disclosed|
|000000002006-12-01-0000December 2006||Airgo Networks Inc.||Wi-fi networking||Not disclosed|
|000000002006-12-01-0000December 2006||Bluetooth assets of RFMD||Bluetooth||$39 million|
|000000002007-11-01-0000November 2007||Firethorn Holdings||Mobile banking services||$210 million|
|000000002007-12-01-0000December 2007||SoftMax||Noise cancellation for mobile phones||Not disclosed|
|000000002008-03-01-0000March 2008||Xiam Technologies Ltd||Content-targeting software||$32 million|
|000000002009-01-01-0000January 2009||AMD handset division||Graphics and multimedia software||$65 million|
|000000002009-02-01-0000February 2009||Digital Fountain||IPTV and mobile video||Not disclosed|
|000000002010-04-01-0000April 2010||Tapioca||URL-linking||Not disclosed|
|000000002010-09-01-0000September 2010||WiPower||Wireless charging pads for mobile devices||Not disclosed|
|000000002010-10-01-0000October 2010||iSkoot||Software for social media feeds on mobile devices||Not disclosed|
|000000002010-09-01-0000September 2010||Sandbridge Technologies||Software defined LTE multicore processor designs||Estimated $55 million|
|000000002011-01-01-0000January 2011||Atheros||Wi-fi networking||$3.1 billion|
|000000002011-02-01-0000February 2011||Sylectus||Wireless technologies for fleet management||Not disclosed|
|000000002011-05-01-0000May 2011||SolLink (50 million shares)||Flat panel displays||$40 million|
|000000002011-06-01-0000June 2011||Rapid Bridge||Configurable semiconductors (LiquidCell)||Not disclosed|
|000000002011-07-25-0000July 25, 2011||GestureTek (some assets)||Gesture recognition software||Not disclosed|
|000000002011-09-01-0000September 2011||Bigfoot Networking||Networking||Not disclosed|
|000000002011-09-01-0000September 2011||Integrated Device Technology (a division)||Video IC design division||$60 million|
|000000002011-11-01-0000November 2011||HaloIPT||Wireless charging for electric vehicles||Not disclosed|
|000000002011-12-01-0000December 2011||Pixtronix Inc.||Fabless MEMS displays||$175–$200 million|
|000000002012-06-01-0000June 2012||Summit Microelectronics||Programmable power integrated circuits||Not disclosed|
|000000002012-08-01-0000August 2012||DesignArt Networks||Miniature Wi-Fi access points||Not disclosed|
|000000002012-11-01-0000November 2012||EPOS Development Ltd (some assets)||ultrasound technologies for device input||Not disclosed|
|000000002013-05-01-0000May 2013||Orb Networks||Streaming video software||Not disclosed|
|000000002014-05-01-0000May 2014||Wilocity||WiGig semiconductor products||Estimated $300 million|
|000000002014-01-01-0000January 2014||HP Patents||2,400 patents related to Palm, iPaq and Bitfone||Not disclosed|
|000000002014-06-01-0000June 2014||Black Sand Technologies Inc.||Power amplifier technology for wireless devices||Not disclosed|
|000000002014-09-01-0000September 2014||Stonestreet One LLC||Bluetooth Protocol Stack provider||Not disclosed|
|September 2015||Ikanos Inc||xDSL transceiver chipsets, network processors||$47 million|
|000000002015-10-01-0000October 2015||CSR plc.||Bluetooth and WiFi for Automotive, Audio, and IoT||$2.5 billion|
|000000002016-10-01-0000October 2016||NXP Semiconductors N.V.||Mixed Signal Semiconductor Products||$47 billion|
Mobile phone standards
Today, the company is the leading patent holder in advanced 3G mobile technologies, including CDMA2000 1xEV-DO and its evolutions; WCDMA and its higher-speed variant known as HSPA and its evolutions; and TD-SCDMA; as well as patents on 4G. The license streams from the patents on these inventions, and related products, are a major component of Qualcomm's business.
In June 2011, Qualcomm announced that it would release a set of application programming interfaces geared to give Web-based applications deeper links into hardware.
Satellite phone network
Beginning in 1991, Qualcomm participated in the development of the Globalstar satellite system along with Loral Space & Communications. It uses a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation consisting of 44 active satellites. The system is used for voice telephony via hand-held satellite phones, asset tracking and data transfer using mobile satellite modems. The system was designed as a normal IS-95 system, and used the satellite as a "bent pipe" or "repeater" to transfer cellular signals from the handset to the terrestrial base station. Unlike the Iridium system, which routes phone calls between satellites, the Globalstar satellite must always be able to see both the handset and the base station to establish a connection, therefore, there is no coverage over the Earth's poles where there are no satellite orbits. There is also no coverage in locations where the large Globalstar base stations are not in view (some locations in the south atlantic, for example.) Some of the Globalstar hardware is manufactured by Qualcomm. Like other satellite phone networks Globalstar went bankrupt in 1999, only to be bought up by a group of investors who are currently running the system.
In April 2006, a dispute between Reliance Communications and Qualcomm over royalty fees cost Qualcomm approximately $11.7b in market capitalization. In July 2007, Reliance and Qualcomm decided to settle the matter and agreed to expand the use of CDMA technology in India.
In June 2007, the U.S. International Trade Commission blocked the import of new cell phone models based on particular Qualcomm microchips. They found that these Qualcomm microchips infringe patents owned by Broadcom. Broadcom has also initiated patent litigation in U.S. courts over this issue. At issue is software designed to extend battery life in chips while users make out-of-network calls. In October, an ITC administrative judge made an initial ruling that Qualcomm violated the Broadcom patent covering that feature and the commission later affirmed the decision. Sprint Nextel Corp. is using a software patch from Qualcomm to get around a U.S. government agency ban on new phones with Qualcomm chips. In August 2007, Judge Rudi Brewster held that Qualcomm had engaged in litigation misconduct by withholding relevant documents during the lawsuit it brought against Broadcom and that Qualcomm employees had lied about their involvement.
In July 2009, South Korea's antitrust watchdog fined Qualcomm a record Won260bn ($207m) for "unfair" business practices related to its chipset sales, sparking strong protests from the company. The Fair Trade Commission accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in the Korean market for CDMA mobile phone chips by charging higher royalties on handset makers that bought modem chips from its competitors, while offering rebates to customers who bought products mainly from the US group, the regulator said in a statement.
In 2009, Qualcomm and Broadcom entered into a settlement and multi-year patent agreement, ending all litigation between the companies.
In 2012, a federal probe was launched into the company’s compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars companies as well as individuals from bribing foreign officials to gain business.
In 2014, China's anti-monopoly regulator announced that Qualcomm was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position. In February 2015, China moved to fine Qualcomm a record $975 million for tactics the government claimed hurt consumers.
On July 16, 2015, the European Commission announced that it had opened two antitrust investigations into Qualcomm's behavior in the field of baseband chipsets for consumer devices.
In July 2016 a group of women filed a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit against Qualcomm, alleging that the firm discriminated against women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas - a class of 3,400 employees. The suit was settled in August 2017. The firm agreed to pay $19.5 million. The plaintiff's law firm said the company will also "institute significant changes in its policies and practices to help eliminate gender disparities and foster equal employment opportunity going forward."
In January 2017, Apple announced a $1 billion lawsuit against Qualcomm for overcharging chips and failing to pay $1 billion in rebates. Qualcomm however rejected the accusations, calling the claims "baseless". A week before the Apple lawsuit, Qualcomm shares dropped as the FTC accused the company of excessive royalties for technologies that are "essential to industry standards." Qualcomm was sued by a group of shareholders in the wake of the aforementioned FTC ruling and Apple lawsuit.
In March 2017, South Korea found out that Qualcomm prevented Samsung from selling their chips to other phone makers.
Qualcomm's role in 3G
This followed a series of patent-related lawsuits and antitrust complaints, spearheaded by Broadcom, in the US. In 2006, Broadcom started a series of patent-related lawsuits and antitrust complaints against Qualcomm to get what Broadcom regarded fair terms for access to the W-CDMA technologies. Broadcom was soon joined by Nokia and others, and complaints were also filed in the European Commission.
In 2007, the European Commission launched an inquiry into Qualcomm's possible abusing of its dominant position in the market for third-generation phones. The complaints were first lodged in 2005 by leading handset manufacturers Ericsson, Nokia, NEC, Panasonic and Texas Instruments.
In October 2008, Nokia announced it will make a one-time payment of $2.29 billion (US) to Qualcomm as part of its patent agreement with the company.
The Chinese TDSCDMA 3G technology was developed primarily to avoid Qualcomm licensing fees, although Qualcomm claims that the Chinese technology still infringes on many Qualcomm patents.
- Semiconductors - Qualcomm designs various ARM architecture-based CDMA, UMTS and LTE modem chipsets and SoC products under the Snapdragon brand. These chipsets are sold to mobile phone manufacturers such as Kyocera, HTC, Motorola Mobility, Sharp, Sanyo, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Sony, Xiaomi and Samsung for integration into cell phones. Although a "fabless" semiconductor company, meaning Qualcomm does not engage in the actual manufacturing process, the chips the firm has designed are powering a significant number of handsets and devices worldwide, both in CDMA and UMTS markets. As of summer of 2007, Qualcomm is among the top-ten semiconductor firms, after Intel, Texas Instruments, Samsung and a few others.
- Qualcomm VR 820 VR headset - anticipated in Q4 2016:
- custom-designed 64-bit Qualcomm Kryo quad-core CPU
- Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU
- 1440×1440 resolution per eye
- AMOLED panel that supports up to 70 Hz
- Processors - In 2015 Qualcomm announced that it was going to enter the enterprise server market, with its Centriq chipsets based on the Falkor CPU. Development began in early 2016, with availability slated for the same year.
- Tracking devices - OmniTRACS is a two-way satellite communications and geolocation trailer tracking technology designed for the over-the-road transport market. As of April 2012, approximately 1.5 million units have been shipped to businesses in 39 countries on 4 continents.
- Satellite phones - Qualcomm manufactures some of the handsets used on the Globalstar network.
- MediaFLO - Qualcomm is the inventor of the MediaFLO system, based upon OFDM, which transmits 12-15 television channels within 6 MHz of spectrum. Qualcomm has standardized the lower layers of this design in TIA, and manufactures chips and software to add this television capability to cellphones.
- QChat - QChat is a cellular/data 2-way push-to-talk voice communications program. Nextel's original push-to-talk technology operates on the iDen network, but Qualcomm's Qchat push-to-talk operates on the Evolution-Data Optimized Revision A (EV-DO Rev. A) mobile broadband network. Sprint-Nextel's first Qchat phones were released in June 2008. Both iDen and Qchat handsets are sold under the Nextel brand. On November 29, 2009 Sprint issued a statement to PhoneNews.com that there are no new QChat handsets on the product development roadmap, but it will continue supporting its existing QChat subscribers.
- Qualcomm Gobi - Qualcomm Gobi is a mobile broadband chipset used mainly for cellular data networking and it is also now used in a few enterprise smart phones (e.g. Motorola ES400). It currently is a 3G technology capable up to HSPA on GSM and EV-DO Rev. A on CDMA carriers. The Gobi chipset is a microprocessor that can load a specific carrier image so that the device appears to be specifically designed for that carrier's network. Since GSM and CDMA are quite different, and since Gobi devices can switch between them both using the same silicon, their solution is considered to be innovative. Gobi Technology is best suited for large enterprise customers where a single mobile operator cannot serve all of their wireless modem needs since there is not one carrier that provides the same level of service in all the places they need that service. The Gobi solution allows the IT department to roll out a single module on their laptop builds which can be configured to behave exactly like a device that is locked to the carrier that they want to use in that area. In the United States exactly the same hardware can be used on the CDMA network or the GSM network of their choice. For GSM users that travel out of the United States the Gobi solution can be used to avoid international roaming charges by switching the SIM and the device's carrier image to a local provider instead of incurring the roaming charges. In both scenarios the customer must have different wireless accounts with each provider they wish to use natively. It typically takes 20 seconds for the device to load the carrier image into NVRAM and reset and come back online. Gobi 3000 is the next hardware revision of the Gobi platform and it natively supports HSPA+. The model for Gobi 3000 is different. It is a reference design the OEMs can license and produce their own Gobi 3000 compliant modules with their own extensions. Qualcomm does not sell any Gobi 3000 silicon. The reference design allows the same boilerplate hardware and software components for the basis of OEM chips which allow the OEMs to focus on innovations on the mobile broadband platform rather than getting bogged down with low-level RF implementations. Currently, Gobi platforms supported LTE natively. Qualcomm re-branded its Gobi modem products under the Snapdragon X-series branding in December 2014.
- Mirasol displays - Mirasol displays are the world's first and only reflective, bistable display based on IMOD technology. Qualcomm's mirasol displays use ambient light as their source of illumination and consume almost no power when the image is unchanged. This results in a very low power display solution that is visible even in direct sunlight.
- HALO - A standard for Wirelessly charging vehicles with relatively high efficiency using Resonant inductive coupling. created from more than 10 years of research at Auckland University
- Operating system - BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) is a proprietary cell phone application platform. BREW is designed so that the platform rejects unsigned applications. In order to have an application signed, a developer must pay a testing fee to National Software Testing Laboratories (NSTL), which then can approve or deny the request. This allows carriers to maintain control over the applications that run on their customers' phones. BitPim is a popular open source program which can access the embedded filesystem on phones using Qualcomm MSMs via a cable or Bluetooth. It should be pointed out that signing systems are also used in Apple iOS, Java ME, and signing is often required by carriers and OEMs.
- Speech codec - Qualcomm has developed an audio codec for speech called PureVoice, which, besides use on mobile phones, was also licensed for use in the very popular Chinese instant messaging software Tencent QQ.
- FEC codec - After its acquisition of Fremont-based Digital Fountain in 2009, Qualcomm developed the latest generation of Raptor codes called RaptorQ.
- Eudora client - Qualcomm formerly developed and distributed Eudora, which it acquired in 1991 from its author Steve Dorner. Qualcomm ceased sales of Eudora on May 1, 2007. Qualcomm committed to co-operate with Mozilla developers to develop a Eudora-like version of Thunderbird, called Project Penelope, later rebranded Eudora OSE, that the Mozilla project declared dead on June 28, 2013, stating that Qualcomm has no plans to update or support it.
- Eudora servers - Qualcomm formerly developed and sold email servers for multiple platforms, including WorldMail for Windows and EIMS (Eudora Internet Mail Server) for Macintosh. Qualcomm no longer sells these products. Qualcomm continues to maintain and distribute the popular open-source Qpopper for Unix and Linux.
Management & Diagnostic tool
- QPST (Qualcomm Product Support Tool), QXDM (Qualcomm eXtensible Diagnostic Monitor) — official tool for management (QPST) and diagnostic (QXDM) Qualcomm based devices.
QChat is a push-to-talk (PTT) technology. The QChat software application was developed by Qualcomm Internet Services (QIS) a division of Qualcomm and part of the Qualcomm Wireless and Internet group. QIS offers a set of software products and content enablement services to support and accelerate the growth of the wireless data market.
Qualcomm developed QChat to provide a reliable method of instant connection and two-way communication between users in different locations, but operating within the same type of network architecture. Prior to the existence of cellular and personal communications services networks, this type of communication was limited to private Land Mobile Radio System (LMR) technology used by public safety and utility service agencies. LMR has limitations, specifically its usage can be restricted by geographic coverage area and by use of disparate frequency bands.
QChat, an application developed for the BREW platform, is a PTT communication technology for 3G networks. QChat handsets and server software allow users to connect instantaneously with other QChat users anywhere in the world with the push of a button. In addition, QChat enables one-to-one (private) and one-to-many (group) calls over the 3G networks.
QChat uses standard Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies. VoIP is a voice delivery mechanism that uses the Internet Protocol to manage the delivery of voice information. Voice information is sent in digital form over IP-based data networks (including CDMA) in discrete packets rather than traditional circuit-switched protocols such those used in the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
QChat users on 3G wireless devices can connect to each other worldwide, in either private or group calls, with the push of a button. QChat uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies to allow subscribers to communicate by using a PTT button on the handset instead of making a standard cellular call.
QChat calls are created by combining separate point-to-point connections between each IP endpoint; the process is managed by the QChat Applications Server, which is deployed on the carrier's IP-based Wide Area Network (WAN).
To initiate a call, a user presses the PTT button and receives an immediate indication of whether the call recipient is available. If he or she is, the caller can begin speaking immediately. If the recipient is unavailable, the caller will simply hear a negative response tone instead of a busy signal or voicemail.
On October 16, 2006, Sprint Nextel announced an agreement with Qualcomm to use QChat to provide high performance push-to-talk services to its customers on the Nationwide Sprint PCS Network, using CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Revision A technology.
QChat is able to inter-operate with iDEN push-to-talk handsets on the Nextel National Network.
Sprint's phones supporting QChat technology were released starting in April 2008, with a trial of business customers in Kansas and Colorado. Sprint then announced that the Nextel Direct Connect devices powered by QChat were available in more than 40 markets in June 2008.
Supported models included:
- Sanyo Pro 200 (Discontinued)
- Sanyo Pro 700 (Discontinued)
- LG LX400 (Discontinued)
- Motorola V950 (Discontinued)
- Samsung Z400 (Discontinued)
- Samsung Z700 (Discontinued)
QuadRooter Security Issues
In August 2016, the computer security company Check Point found several serious security problems on Qualcomm chips. The bug called Quadrooter has the ability to let hackers read all information on Android phones. Even worse, hackers can have full access if the affected user installs an app that exploits one of the vulnerabilities. According to Check Point this affects 900 million Android users. Affected phones include some of the most recent Android phones. Check Point has published a scan tool for Android users and BlackBerry is developing a repair tool. Qualcomm has released fixes for all four issues, three of which had been included in the Android updates for the top Google phones at the time of publication of the bug.
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