Careers at Qualcomm
Qualcomm’s mission is to invent and share mobile technologies that extend human ability and help people do things they never thought possible.
Qualcomm is a semiconductor company that develops wireless telecommunications products and services. The firm has three reportable business segments:
- QTC (Qualcomm CDMA Technologies) Segment – Develops integrated circuits and system software based on CDMA and other technologies for usage in voice and data communications, application processing, networking, and multimedia.
- QTL (Qualcomm Technology Licensing) Segment – Grants licenses and provides rights for use of portions of Qualcomm‘s IP portfolio, which includes patent rights for the sale of certain products.
- QSI (Qualcomm Strategic Initiatives) Segment – Makes strategic investments focused on expanding opportunities for Qualcomm’s technologies and supporting the launch of new products and services for voice and data communications.
Professor Irwin Jacobs and researcher Andrew Viterbi were former engineering classmates at MIT. In 1968 they launched Linkabit, a manufacturer of digital communications equipment. The company developed applications for the TV industry and eventually became a great success, generating $100 million in annual sales and merging with M/A-COM to form M/A-COM Linkabit. The two men could’ve rested on their laurels, but instead observed that within the nascent mobile satellite telecommunication sector there was an opportunity for a groundbreaking product. So in 1985 they left the company to start another one, Qualcomm. It was co-founded with five others: Harvey White, Franklin Antonio, Andrew Cohen, Klein Gilhousen, and Adelia Coffman.
Their first order of business was to identify a commercial application of digital satellite communications. They noticed that truckers often lost valuable time due to having to make stops to call with updates about their expected arrival. So they worked on a wireless, long-distance communications solution. The result was OmniTRACS, a two-way positioning and messaging system. It utilized CDMA, a wireless technology used by the military. Released in 1988, the service became popular among long-haul trucking firms as it allowed drivers to communicate while actually on the road. Qualcomm also introduced specialized integrated circuits for digital radio communications, a precursor for smartphone processors. Its products led to it ending 1989 with revenues of $32 million.
1989 saw Qualcomm stage a demonstration of CDMA at an event hosting a group of powerful players in the wireless industry. Jacbos got onstage and placed a wireless phone call -- marking a turning point in the telecommunications industry. The next few years saw major milestones. Qualcomm went public in fall 1991. In 1993, it unveiled the first dual-mode CDMA-AMPS mobile phone, the CD-7000. In 1998, it introduced the pdQ CDMA phone, the first CDMA smartphone. In 2001, the company signed its 100th licensee. In 2007, research firm iSupply named it the top mobile chipset provider in the world, thanks to its strength in the supply of integrated circuits to manufacturers of advanced 3G mobile devices. Qualcomm is now the top phone semiconductor provider.
Benefits at Qualcomm
Business model of Qualcomm
Qualcomm has a niche market business model, with a specialized customer segment. It markets most of its products to manufacturers of wireless devices that require integrated circuits.
Qualcomm offers two primary value propositions: innovation and brand/status.
The company’s entire history has been one of innovation, being the first to introduce a commercial application of CDMA. It has maintained this quality with the introduction of superfast processors such as Snapdragon and new server chips based on ARM.
The company has a strong brand in large part due to its long history and its status as a first mover in a variety of product areas. The success of its early products helped spur the U.S. Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) to adopt CDMA as a digital wireless standard.
Qualcomm’s main channel is its direct sales team, through which it acquires customers. The company also promotes its products through its website and social media pages. Further, it markets its offerings through advertising, participation in trade shows and technical conferences, the writing of white papers and business cases, and the creation of marketing development funds with customers.
Qualcomm’ customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize its products and services with limited interaction with employees. That said, there is a personal assistance component as the company offers e-mail support.
Qualcomm’s business model entails designing its digital communications products and providing relevant services. The company relies on a limited number of third-party vendors for the manufacture of its offerings. These contractors are largely located in Asia.
Qualcomm has three main categories of partners:
Distributors – Mostly located in China, but are also based in India, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. Specific partners include Uniquest Corporation, TOMEN Electronics Corp., Maxmega Electronics, AqTronics Technologies, and China Electronic Appliance Shenzhen.
Module and Software Providers – Suppliers of modules and software. Specific partners include Ayla Networks, Proximetry, Silex Technology, Temboo, and Wisol.
Authorized Design Centers – Facilities that research novel applications for Qualcomm’s technology. They have expertise ranging from RF design to driver development. Specific partners include Abicom International, Compex Systems, Embedded Wireless, L&T Technology Services, and Savari Networks.
Qualcomm’s main resource is its engineering team. Its technology employees have significant knowledge of CDMA, OFMDA, and other relevant technologies, and work in R&D centers located throughout the world. The company also relies heavily on its sales/marketing staff in order to acquire customers and to promote its offerings.
Qualcomm has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through extensive research and development. Its biggest cost driver is cost of equipment and services, a variable cost. Other major drivers are in the areas of R&D and administration, both fixed costs.
Qualcomm has two revenue streams:
Equipment and Services – The prices it charges for purchase of its physical products (primarily integrated circuits) and service offerings.
Licensing – The fees it charges from the licensing of its intellectual property, including software, patents, and other rights.
info: Steve earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Virginia Tech and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan. He previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Qualcomm. Before those roles, he oversaw the firm’s chipset business.
info: Paul earned Bachelor’s, Master’s, and doctorate degrees in Electrical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He has over 25 years of experience in mobile communications. He oversees the exploration of long-term opportunities at Qualcomm.
info: Derek earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law. He oversees all business units across Qualcomm, as well its market development and marketing groups.
info: Matthew earned an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Bradley University. He leads coordination of Qualcomm’s R&D activities and development of its next-generation technologies.
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