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Dr. Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Qualcomm

Having taken over from his father Irwin at the family firm, Paul Jacobs now presides over an intellectual property portfolio that comprises well in excess of 10,000 US patents related to wireless technologies, which are licensed by 165 other companies within the industry. Through the firm’s QCT (Qualcomm CDMA Technologies) arm, meanwhile, he oversees the largest wireless chipset production house in the business.

Not an awful lot happens in the wireless industry that doesn’t have a trace of Qualcomm in it somewhere. Even when it is claimed that the Qualcomm fingerprint is absent, the firm’s influence is still apparent. Development of the home-grown Chinese TD-SCDMA standard was motivated by a desire to avoid royalty payments and it may yet turn out to be nothing much more than a costly mistake.

Under Jacobs Jr. Qualcomm has managed to bring to a close many of the long-running lawsuits that characterised its past participation in the mobile industry, and has become more widely accepted by a community that was once in large part hostile towards the Californian firm. Close collaboration throughout the organisation with Nokia—once a sworn enemy—is now a stated aim of his tenure, and it has been suggested that a similarly rejuvenated relationship with Broadcom could also be possible.

Jacobs will now be keen to maintain the relevance of his IPR portfolio as the industry moves towards LTE; and the company claims to have a substantial number of relevant patents, collected through acquisition as well as R&D. He is also known to be keen to avoid layoffs, despite the downturn, in order to keep R&D functioning at the usual levels. Expect Jacobs to keep the firm directed at its new smartbooks venture, the industry app store bandwagon and healthcare technology, as well as existing projects.

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