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Qualcomm wants to get its 5G into laptops

Qualcomm is one of the world's biggest providers of silicon and technology for smartphones. Now, according to the company's newly minted CEO, Qualcomm is turning its attention toward laptops.

In his first interview since becoming the company's CEO on July 1, Cristiano Amon told Reuters that Qualcomm hopes to implement the same playbook in laptops that it did in smartphones. Specifically, he said the company plans to pair its low-power connectivity chips with its processing chips in order to edge into a market currently dominated by the likes of Intel and AMD.

The market is not a new one for Qualcomm. Already laptops like the Asus NovaGo, Lenovo Flex 5G, Acer Spin 7 and HP Elite Folio feature Qualcomm's silicon. But Qualcomm is hoping that its $1.4 billion purchase of Nuvia – founded by former Apple engineers – will help it get a leg up in the industry.

Importantly, Nuvia will give Qualcomm an alternative to chips based on technology from Arm. Nvidia is in the process of acquiring Arm, creating a competitive concern for Qualcomm. Amon told Reuters that Qualcomm can still license technologies from Arm if necessary, but that the company is hoping to entice more laptop business with products based on technologies from Nuvia.

Amon's interest in laptops is partly an attempt to expand Qualcomm's business beyond phones. Already the company is developing silicon products for wireless networks. But Qualcomm's attempts to expand into the automotive industry was hamstrung after the company's proposed $44 billion acquisition of NXP was eventually scuttled by Chinese regulators.

Thus, laptops may represent a new source of revenues for Qualcomm, particularly if laptop makers begin to view built-in 5G connections as necessary rather than optional.

In his interview, Amon also addressed several other hot-button issues on his plate as he takes control of Qualcomm from former CEO Steve Mollenkopf. He said the company is hoping to capture market share left by Huawei as the Chinese vendor withdraws from the market under pressure from the US government. That, according to Amon, could help to counteract a potential loss of business as Apple reportedly eyes the development of its own chips in order to replace those it purchases from Qualcomm for the iPhone.

Further, Amon is hoping to retain Qualcomm's vast business in China; Xiaomi and other Chinese phone makers currently purchase technology and silicon from Qualcomm. "We license our technology – we don't have to do forced joint ventures with technology transfers," Amon explained. "Our customers in China are current with their agreements, so you see respect for American intellectual property."

That's noteworthy considering relations between the US and China remain strained, which has cast a cloud over US companies hoping to derive significant revenues from business in China.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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