Qualcomm’s Strategy Is a Winner

2:25 PM -- Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) often gets bad press because it derives so much of its revenue from licensing intellectual property (IP) related to the patents it owns on CDMA and other technologies. I’ve got no problem with such a strategy provided those who really develop and own the technologies (as opposed to the bloodsucking patent mills) pursue it. But, as I noted in my entry of some time ago on the declining value of CDMA, Qualcomm, the CDMA company clearly faces significant challenges moving forward.

Or do they? Thanks to their acquisition of the terrific Flarion technology, Qualcomm now has a very nice path to 4G, with (my analysis) Flarion forming the basis of almost-back-on-track 802.20, and 802.20 in turn playing a big role in EV-DO Rev C, know known as UMB. The announcement materials for UMB mention 280 Mbit/s – and that’s on a wide area network! Even deflating for reality and marketing hype, this is going to be a very exciting direction for future WWANs and very competitive with UMTS LTE, in which Qualcomm will also undoubtedly play. (See Qualcomm Pushes OFDM and Yay! More Acronyms!.)

And along comes the acquisition of Airgo Networks Inc. , the pioneer (and, IMHO, still the leader) in WLAN MIMO chipsets, and we have a new Qualcomm which is poised to regain the mantle of 'Most Important Company in Wireless.' Qualcomm has a strong IP position in both WLANs and WWANs, a clear path to 4G, a great strategy for converged WLAN/WWAN client chipsets, and much more. OK, they play hardball now and then. They irritate their competitors, and occasionally their customers. But there is no denying their leading position in wireless today (See Qualcomm Buys Airgo, RFMD Assets.) — Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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