"Leading" is very misleading. While they sell quite a few of them, they are not that great. Qualcomm locks manufacturers in with them and make sure they don't inter-operate with other components. Worse yet, Qualcomm has a knack to make changes to the ARM processor designs and do non-standard things. Great if you are writing your OS/Apps to only run on that but horrible if you expect non-Qualcomm chips to be used as well.
Anand Chandrasekher, the man who was responsible for many of Intel's low-power mobile chip initiatives, has joined Qualcomm as its new chief marketing officer. Chandrasekher was a 24-year veteran of Intel, but resigned his position as general manager of the company's Ultra Mobility Group in March 2011, saying he wished "to …
Tuesday 7th August 2012 09:52 GMT Anonymous Coward
"Leading" I don't think is misleading at all. In terms of numbers and integration I think Qualcomm is ahead of nVidia, TI and Samsung the main other silicon vendors to high-end phones, although the likes of Broadcom, Mediatek are catching up.
Additionally since the context of the leading comment is in reference to Intel competing with Qualcomm it seems very appropriate since the Atom based phone chips Intel is pushing are targeted towards Android currently (and presumably WinPhone in the future) which correspond to Qualcomm's Snapdragon lines, not it's lower end chipsets.
I'm also not sure that it's true to say that Qualcomm locks-in manufacturers. Long standing Qualcomm customers such as Samsung, LG, Motorola and HTC are all releasing phones and tablets using chips from other silicon vendors. I think they are seeing multi-sourcing as a way to extract greater value from their suppliers be it Qualcomm or anyone else - suppliers always tend to be more responsive when they're not a sole supplier.
I'm also not sure that the changes to the ARM core in Snapdragon really affect software standard compilers (such as gcc) produce code that works just fine on Snapdragon - in fact gcc is the compiler of choice for the Android project which is where a lot of the Snapdragon processors are used.
Where there are differences is in peripheral integration due to Qualcomm following an SoC approach (which is also being pursued by Broadcom and Mediatek). This tends to mean that Qualcomm designs lag, some silicon vendors, in terms of headline grabbing figures and number (e.g. number of cores), but as a result tend to use less power and space due to the integration.
And of course the modem is on the SoC which is a both a major advantage (since there's no integration work for the manufacturer to do) but that is somewhat of a lock-in but pre-qualification means that switching modems is not as difficult as it might be.
And I do not think "Leading" is misleading - Qualcomm have been shipping 100 million chips per quarter for the last few quarters - I do think that probably qualifies them as leading. I tried to find out what Mediatek have been doing and they're numbers look to be in the 10million a quarter. Also Strategy Analytics estimated Qualcomm's market share of smartphones as 44 per cent and the largest individual (though it was down from 51 per cent).
Overall I think this shows a healthy market. There is no one company that has total dominance so competition is leading to better products from all players at keener prices.
Tuesday 7th August 2012 10:37 GMT Anonymous Coward
'"Leading" is very misleading'.
I'm not sure I'd agree with that. Qualcomm has 44% of the smartphone market according to Strategy Analytics (which is actually down from 51%).
I'm not quite sure what you are doing but gcc toolchain compiles code for Snapdragon which works just fine (since that's what Android uses), so it's not changes to the ARM core that do non-standard things (unless you working right at the very edge of the chips spec).
So I'm guessing what you're really getting at here is that Qualcomm integrates devices onto the SoC. Well, yes this does mean that there is some lock-in. But equally, there's less space and less power needed for the design - so it has pros and cons.
And also long time Qualcomm customers such as Motorola, Samsung, LG and HTC are all releasing devices based on other silicon vendors chips so clearly the lock-in is not insurmountable.
Sounds quite a lot like sour grapes to me.