Qualcomm to Remain Absolutely Fabless
Speaking at the chipmaker's annual developer conference, CEO Paul Jacobs said the delays were due to 28-nanometer (nm) supply issues. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) produces the 28nm SoC (system on a chip) components for Qualcomm and others and fell behind on production after the chip giant underestimated demand for the popular smartphone processor.
TSMC claims the company could remain behind through 2013, but Jacobs said Qualcomm is doing what it can to ensure that doesn't happen. Now it works with several suppliers and is "looking at different business relationships to ensure the supply shortage we had doesn't happen again."
But, he said, it may continue to have reverberations through the end of the year.
"Customers also recognize that the next chips we have coming at the end of the year are great chips," Jacobs said in a press conference. "There may be some impact, but it won't be significant."
The admission prompted an audience member to ask why Qualcomm doesn't just own its own fab (the semiconductor factory where chips are fabricated).
Jacobs wasn't firm in his rejection of the idea, admitting that Qualcomm has the money to do so. But, he said, right now he likes the company's current fabless model.
"We have the core competencies inside to do it, but if we can continue to leverage the horizontal model fabless, we'll continue to do so," Jacobs said. "We like that model."
"We aren’t writing big checks," Jacobs added. "But, if in the future it took that, we'd weigh those issues. It's in a little of a state of flux, since we're still managing through the shortages right now. We don’t want to say no to anything right now."
Well, there was one thing Jacobs will say no to, actually. That's the idea of Qualcomm building its own mobile device. He gave an emphatic "no" when asked if he'd follow the likes of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) into building their own tablets.
"There's definitely a big benefit to focusing on what you're good at and finding partners that can do what they're good at," the CEO said.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile