Qualcomm Inc.
Type Public
Industry Telecommunications
Genre Wireless technologies
Founded San Diego, California, USA (1985)
Founder(s) Irwin Jacobs
Andrew Viterbi

San Diego, California, United States

Coordinates: 32°53′43″N 117°11′45″W / 32.8952°N 117.1957°W / 32.8952; -117.1957
Area served Worldwide
Key people Paul E. Jacobs
(Chairman & CEO)
Products CDMA/WCDMA chipsets
mirasol displays
Revenue increase US$ 10.99 billion (2010)[1]
Operating income increase US$ 3.28 billion (2010)[1]
Profit increase US$ 3.25 billion (2010)[1]
Total assets increase US$ 30.572 billion (2010)[1]
Total equity increase US$ 20.858 billion (2010)[1]
Employees 17,500 (2011)[2]
Website www.qualcomm.com
Qualcomm Research Center and Office of the Chief Scientist in San Diego, CA.

Qualcomm (NASDAQQCOM) is an American global telecommunication corporation that designs, manufactures and markets digital wireless telecommunications products and services based on its code division multiple access (CDMA) technology and other technologies. Headquartered in San Diego, CA, USA. The company operates through four segments: Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT); Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL); Qualcomm Wireless & Internet (QWI), and Qualcomm Strategic Initiatives (QSI).


Corporate history

Qualcomm was founded in 1985 by MIT Alumni and UC San Diego Professor Irwin Jacobs, MIT and USC Alumni 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 Parviz Nazarian and Neil Kadisha, and specialized integrated circuits for digital radio communications such as a Viterbi decoder.

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 CDMA-2000 cellular standard.

In 1997, Qualcomm paid $18 million for the naming rights to the Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, renaming it to Qualcomm Stadium. The naming rights will belong to Qualcomm until 2017.[3]

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.

In 2011, Qualcomm announced that Steve Mollenkopf has been promoted to president and chief operating officer of the company, effective November 12. [4]


In 2000, Qualcomm acquired SnapTrack, the inventor of the assisted-GPS system for cellphones, branded as gpsOne. The Snaptrack patents describe how a cellphone can acquire a GPS signal rapidly using timing information sent from the base station. This reduces the searching time for geolocation from minutes down to roughly one second.

In October 2004, Qualcomm acquired Trigenix Ltd, a mobile user interface (UI) software development company, based in Cambridge, UK. After integrating the company, Qualcomm re-branded their interface markup language and its accompanying integrated development environment (IDE) as uiOne. In March 2009, Qualcomm informed their Cambridge engineering staff, mostly from the division working on uiOne, that they were going to be eliminated, and, in April that year, (after a legally required 30 day consultancy period) around 45 staff were let go. The rationale was stated as being a greater focus on deploying Flash Lite as a UI solution for Qualcomm-chipset-powered mobile phones. During 2004 Qualcomm also acquired Iridigm Corporation to form Qualcomm MEMS Technologies to develop low power reflective displays for mobile applications.

In 2006, Qualcomm purchased Flarion Technologies. Flarion is the creator of the Flash-OFDM wireless base station, and the inventor of the "flash" beaconing method and several other innovations in OFDM communications.

In 2009, Qualcomm purchased AMD's handset division.[5] This acquisition formed the basis for the later Adreno chips.[6]

In 2010, Qualcomm announced acquisition of San Francisco based iSkoot Technologies Inc. Qualcomm did not disclose financial details of the acquisition.[7]

In 2011, Qualcomm announced acquisition of Atheros Communications Inc. for about $3.2 billion in cash, broadening its lineup of Wi-Fi networking technology.[8] In early February 2011, Qualcomm acquired the Canadian company of Sylectus.[9]

In July 2011, Qualcomm acquired some assets of GestureTek. The company plans to use the gesture recognition technology in its Snapdragon processors.[10]

In November 2011, Qualcomm acquired a substantial portfolio of assets and technology from HaloIPT. The company provides wireless charging technology for electric road vehicles. [11]

Mobile phone standards

Qualcomm is the inventor of CDMAone (IS-95), CDMA 2000, and CDMA 1xEV-DO, which are wireless cellular standards used for communications. The company also owns significant number of key patents on the widely adopted 3G technology, W-CDMA.[12] 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 will be releasing a set of applications programming interfaces.[13]

Satellite phone network

Qualcomm participated in the development of the Globalstar satellite system along with Loral Space & Communications. It uses a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation comprising 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. 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. Those investors plan to launch a constellation supporting EV-DO in 2009.

Legal issues

In April 2006, a dispute between Reliance Communications and Qualcomm over royalty fees cost Qualcomm approximately $11.7b in market capitalization.[14] In July 2007, Reliance and Qualcomm decided to make peace and agreed to expand the use of CDMA technology in India.[15]

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.[16][17]

Qualcomm's role in 3G

The current UMTS air interfaces are for the most part based on Qualcomm patents, and royalties from these patents represent a significant part of Qualcomm's revenue.

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.[18]

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.

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.


Qualcomm dual-band mobile phone
  • Tracking devices - OmniTRACS is a two-way satellite communications and geolocation trailer tracking technology designed for the over-the-road transport market. As of summer 2005, over 567,000 units have been shipped to transport companies on 4 continents.
  • Semiconductors - Qualcomm designs various ARM architecture CDMA and UMTS modem chipsets designated Mobile Station Modem (MSM), baseband radio processors, and power processor chips. These chipsets are sold to mobile phone manufacturers such as Kyocera, HTC Corporation, Motorola, Sharp, Sanyo, LG and Samsung for integration into CDMA and UMTS 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 world wide, 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.
  • 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 EV-DO Revision 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 ES4000). 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 and 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 was provide 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 the exact 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 scenario's 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 licence 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 boiler plate 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. Future Gobi platforms will support LTE natively. Currently, some Gobi 3000 modules support LTE through their own extensions. The most current info about Gobi can be found at www.gobianywhere.com.

  • 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.


  • Operating system - BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) is a proprietary cell phone application platform. Unlike Java ME (Java Platform, Micro Edition), BREW is a licensed (i.e., not open) product. Unlike some Java ME implementations, 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 Labs (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 Java ME, and signing is often required by carriers and OEMs.
  • Speech codec - Qualcomm has developed an audio codec for speech called PureVoice,[19] which besides use on mobile phones was also licensed for use in the very popular Chinese instant messaging software Tencent QQ.[20]
  • FEC codec - After its acquisition of Fremont-based Digital Fountain in 2009, Qualcomm developed the latest generation of Raptor codes called RaptorQ.[21]
  • 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.[22] Qualcomm has committed to co-operating with Mozilla developers to develop a Eudora-like version of Thunderbird, called Project Penelope.[23]
  • 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.


Qualcomm offices are present in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.

See also

Portal icon San Diego portal
Portal icon Companies portal


  1. ^ a b c d e 2010 Final Report
  2. ^ Google Finance Summary Retrieved 2010-11-06.
  3. ^ [1], Qualcomm San Diego page.
  4. ^ Staff, EE Times. "Qualcomm names Mollenkopf president, COO." October 4, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  5. ^ Sam Diaz, ZDNet. "[2]." January 20, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  6. ^ Scott Bicheno, HEXUS. "[3]." February 18, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  7. ^ "Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. Acquires iSkoot Technologies Inc., a Leader in Mobilizing Internet Services on the Handsets Most People Use Today". qualcomm. http://www.qualcomm.com/news/releases/2010/10/13/qualcomm-innovation-center-inc-acquires-iskoot-technologies-inc-leader. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  8. ^ Qualcomm Agrees to Buy Atheros for About $3.2 Billion By Olga Kharif and Sarah Rabil - Jan 5, 2011 1:33 PM GMT-0800, accessdate 5 January 2011
  9. ^ Qualcomm Announces Acquisition of Sylectus Updated:2011/2/14 10:19, accessdate=14 January 2011
  10. ^ Rick Merritt, EE Times. "Qualcomm buys gesture-recognition technology." July 25, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  11. ^ EE Times. "alcomm acquires wireless EV charging firm." November 8, 2011. Retrieved November 9, 2011.
  12. ^ List of Qualcomm's patents
  13. ^ Rick Merritt, EE Times. "Qualcomm will give Web apps a boost ." June 3, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  14. ^ India costs Qualcomm $12 bn
  15. ^ Qualcomm, RCom bury hatchet
  16. ^ Judge Brewster Benchslaps Qualcomm Lawyers, Wall Street Journal Law Blog, 8 August 2007.
  17. ^ L’Affaire Qualcomm: Judge Sanctions Six Lawyers, Wall Street Journal Law Blog, 8 January 2008.
  18. ^ Qualcomm issues Nokia licensing warning, Wireless Watch, 25 April 2006.
  19. ^ http://www.qctconnect.com/products/purevoice.html
  20. ^ Qualcomm PureVoice is acknowledged in QQ2008's installation splash screen and in its license.txt
  21. ^ About Digital Fountain Raptor Technology
  22. ^ Eudora page
  23. ^ Penelope - MozillaWiki

Further reading

  • Mock, Dave (2005-02-28). The Qualcomm Equation. American Management Association. ISBN 0-8144-0818-4. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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