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Why Qualcomm Scared

Ted Shelton is one of my favorite bloggers. He brings things to light that other miss like this post about Qualcomm.

I live in the shadow of Qualcomm and have many friends who are employed there in the marketing and technology groups. All of that is fine, and while I recognize that they have some very solid technology they are always somewhat on the side leaning in the direction of paranoia when it comes to what competing technology can mean and how it can impact them. And they have every right to be.

When you shave it all down, CDMA is what Qualcomm is all about. Anything that is a threat to CDMA starts the Q shaking, and responding like a shark smelling blood in every direction. Take for example CDMA vs. WiFi war of words a few years back. Instead of saying the two technologies can co-exist, and thus disintermediating Intel by light years (i.e. the war of words started long before Centrino was even in the womb) Qualcomm started highlighting the shortcomings of WiFi at the 802.11b stage.

Now it appears they are doing the same thing with WiMax.... Q which is always fearful of Intel, a company who is about as undermining as a company can be when it comes to technology, is choosing to really push the WiMax battle early on. Now that Intel has Clearwire in their venture portfolio the landscape changes slightly.

Clearly, as Ted points out, this is not at all about data. It's about Voice. Voice traffic that goes over the cellular networks. If McCaw and his team at Clearwire can offer a non CDMA based technology that works, and works for less money, delivers high speed data and the ability to run VoIP without dependency on CDMA, that eventually means Qualcomm gets no royalties, so Q has a right to be paranoid. Jobs, money are on the line. Do you really think Verizon and Sprint in the USA have loyalty in their coprorate hearts towards Qualcomm? I don't. And deep down the folks at Qualcomm have to know it too.

Last month at a San Diego Telecom Headliners event, Irwin Jacobs the chairman and founder mentioned VoIP in a passage during his presentation. It was the first time I ever heard Qualcomm talk about VoIP and CDMA in the same breath. Now I know why.

This is basic to all business. Build a better mousetrap, and eventually, the business goes your way. Qualcomm has a right to be concerned about WiMax, and they will leverage every aspect of their global reach they can to make sure they have their piece of the pie in order to survive.


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Agreed. But WiMax is just an enabler for new entrants to attack the mobile carriers' broken business models. The real action will start Disney and Wal-Mart decide to partner with Clearwire and give up on the short-sighted carriers.

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