Qualcomm Research Center in San Diego, California.
Qualcomm Incorporated is an American global semiconductor company that designs and markets wireless telecommunications products and services. Headquartered in San Diego, California, USA, the company has 157 worldwide locations. The parent company is Qualcomm Incorporated (Qualcomm), which includes the Qualcomm Technology Licensing Division (QTL). Qualcomm's wholly owned subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI), operates substantially all of Qualcomm's R&D activities, as well as its product and services businesses, including its semiconductor business, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies.
Qualcomm was founded in 1985 by MIT alumnus and UC San Diego professor Irwin M. Jacobs, USC MIT alumnus Andrew Viterbi, Harvey White, Adelia Coffman, Andrew Cohen, Klein Gilhousen, and Franklin Antonio. Jacobs and Viterbi had previously founded Linkabit. Qualcomm's first products and services included the OmniTRACS satellite locating and messaging service, used by long-haul trucking companies, developed from a product called Omninet owned by Parviz Nazarian and Neil Kadisha, and specialized integrated circuits for digital radio communications such as a Viterbi decoder.
In 1990, Qualcomm began the design of the first CDMA-based cellular base station, based upon calculations derived from the CDMA-based OmniTRACS satellite system. This work began as a study contract from AirTouch which was facing a shortage of cellular capacity in Los Angeles. Two years later Qualcomm began to manufacture CDMA cell phones, base stations, and chips. The initial base stations were not reliable and the technology was licensed wholly to Nortel in return for their work in improving the base station switching. The first CDMA technology was standardized as IS-95. Qualcomm has since helped to establish the CDMA2000, WCDMA and LTE cellular standards.
In 1991, Qualcomm acquired Eudora (email client), a PC mail client that could be used with the Omnitracs system. The acquisition also associated a widely-used email client with a company that was little-known at the time, Qualcomm.
In 1997, Qualcomm paid $18 million for the naming rights to the Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, renaming it to Qualcomm Stadium. The naming rights will belong to Qualcomm until 2017.
In 1999, Qualcomm sold its base station business to Ericsson, and later, sold its cell phone manufacturing business to Kyocera. The company was now focused on developing and licensing wireless technologies and selling ASICs that implement them.
In 2011, Qualcomm announced that Steve Mollenkopf has been promoted to president and chief operating officer of the company, effective November 12. Promoted to CEO on December 16, 2013.
CFO Bill Keitel retired and was replaced by Applied Materials CFO George Davis on March 11, 2013.
Vista Equity Partners took over the Omnitracs business from Qualcomm Incorporated in November 2013.
Qualcomm pioneered the commercialization of the cdmaOne (IS-95) standard for wireless cellular communications, following up with CDMA2000, an early standard for third-generation (3G) mobile.
Today, the company is the leading patent holder in advanced 3G mobile technologies, including CDMA2000 1xEV-DO and its evolutions; WCDMA and its higher-speed variant known as HSPA and its evolutions; and TD-SCDMA; as well as patents on 4G. The license streams from the patents on these inventions, and related products, are a major component of Qualcomm's business.
Beginning in 1991, Qualcomm participated in the development of the Globalstar satellite system along with Loral Space & Communications. It uses a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation consisting of 44 active satellites. The system is used for voice telephony via hand-held satellite phones, asset tracking and data transfer using mobile satellite modems. The system was designed as a normal IS-95 system, and used the satellite as a "bent pipe" or "repeater" to transfer cellular signals from the handset to the terrestrial base station. Unlike the Iridium system, which routes phone calls between satellites, the Globalstar satellite must always be able to see both the handset and the base station to establish a connection, therefore, there is no coverage over the Earth's poles where there are no satellite orbits. There is also no coverage in locations where the large Globalstar base stations are not in view (some locations in the south atlantic, for examples.) Some of the Globalstar hardware is manufactured by Qualcomm. Like other satellite phone networks Globalstar went bankrupt in 1999, only to be bought up by a group of investors who are currently running the system.
In April 2006, a dispute between Reliance Communications and Qualcomm over royalty fees cost Qualcomm approximately $11.7b in market capitalization. In July 2007, Reliance and Qualcomm decided to settle the matter and agreed to expand the use of CDMA technology in India.
In June 2007, the U.S. International Trade Commission blocked the import of new cell phone models based on particular Qualcomm microchips. They found that these Qualcomm microchips infringe patents owned by Broadcom. Broadcom has also initiated patent litigation in U.S. courts over this issue. At issue is software designed to extend battery life in chips while users make out-of-network calls. In October, an ITC administrative judge made an initial ruling that Qualcomm violated the Broadcom patent covering that feature and the commission later affirmed the decision. Sprint Nextel Corp. is using a software patch from Qualcomm to get around a U.S. government agency ban on new phones with Qualcomm chips. In August 2007, Judge Rudi Brewster held that Qualcomm had engaged in litigation misconduct by withholding relevant documents during the lawsuit it brought against Broadcom and that Qualcomm employees had lied about their involvement.
In July 2009, South Korea’s antitrust watchdog fined Qualcomm a record Won260bn ($207m) for “unfair” business practices related to its chipset sales, sparking strong protests from the company. The Fair Trade Commission accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in the Korean market for CDMA mobile phone chips by charging higher royalties on handset makers that bought modem chips from its competitors, while offering rebates to customers who bought products mainly from the US group, the regulator said in a statement.
In 2009, Qualcomm and Broadcom entered into a settlement and multi-year patent agreement, ending all litigation between the companies.
In 2012 a federal probe was launched into the company’s compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars companies as well as individuals from bribing foreign officials to gain business.
In 2014 China's anti-monopoly regulator announced that Qualcomm was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position, allegations which could see the company hit with record fines of more than $1 billion.
The current UMTSair interfaces are for the most part based on Qualcomm patents, and royalties from these patents represent a significant part of Qualcomm's revenue.
This followed a series of patent-related lawsuits and antitrust complaints, spearheaded by Broadcom, in the US. In 2006, Broadcom started a series of patent-related lawsuits and antitrust complaints against Qualcomm to get what Broadcom regarded fair terms for access to the W-CDMA technologies. Broadcom was soon joined by Nokia and others, and complaints were also filed in the European Commission.
In 2007 the European Commission launched an inquiry into Qualcomm's possible abusing of its dominant position in the market for third-generation phones. The complaints were first lodged in 2005 by leading handset manufacturers Ericsson, Nokia, NEC, Panasonic and Texas Instruments.
In October 2008, Nokia announced it will make a one time payment of $2.29 billion (US) to Qualcomm as part of its patent agreement with the company.
The Chinese TDSCDMA 3G technology was developed primarily to avoid Qualcomm licensing fees, although Qualcomm claims that the Chinese technology still infringes on many Qualcomm patents.
Tracking devices - OmniTRACS is a two-way satellite communications and geolocation trailer tracking technology designed for the over-the-road transport market. As of April 2012, approximately 1.5 million units have been shipped to businesses in 39 countries on 4 continents.
Semiconductors - Qualcomm designs various ARM architecture CDMA and UMTS modem chipsets designated Mobile Station Modem (MSM), baseband radio processors, System on a chips,and power processor chips. These chipsets are sold to mobile phone manufacturers such as Kyocera, HTC Corporation, Motorola, Sharp, Sanyo, LG, Nokia and Samsung for integration into CDMA and UMTS cell phones. Although a "fabless" semiconductor company, meaning Qualcomm does not engage in the actual manufacturing process, the chips the firm has designed are powering a significant number of handsets and devices world wide, both in CDMA and UMTS markets. As of summer of 2007, Qualcomm is among the top-ten semiconductor firms, after Intel, Texas Instruments, Samsung, and a few others.
Satellite phones - Qualcomm manufactures some of the handsets used on the Globalstar network.
MediaFLO - Qualcomm is the inventor of the MediaFLO system, based upon OFDM, which transmits 12-15 television channels within 6 MHz of spectrum. Qualcomm has standardized the lower layers of this design in TIA, and manufactures chips and software to add this television capability to cellphones.
QChat - QChat is a cellular/data 2-way push-to-talk voice communications program. Nextel's original push-to-talk technology operates on the iDen network, but Qualcomm's Qchat push-to-talk operates on the EV-DO Revision A mobile broadband network. Sprint-Nextel's first Qchat phones were released in June 2008. Both iDen and Qchat handsets are sold under the Nextel brand. On November 29, 2009 Sprint issued a statement to PhoneNews.com that there are no new QChat handsets on the product development roadmap, but it will continue supporting its existing QChat subscribers.
Qualcomm Gobi - Qualcomm Gobi is a mobile broadband chipset used mainly for cellular data networking and it is also now used in a few enterprise smart phones (e.g. Motorola ES400). It currently is a 3G technology capable up to HSPA on GSM and EV-DO rev.A on CDMA carriers. The Gobi chipset is a microprocessor that can load a specific carrier image so that the device appears to be specifically designed for that carrier's network. Since GSM and CDMA are quite different, and since Gobi devices can switch between them both using the same silicon, their solution is considered to be innovative. Gobi Technology is best suited for large enterprise customers where a single mobile operator cannot serve all of their wireless modem needs since there is not one carrier that was provide the same level of service in all the places they need that service. The Gobi solution allows the IT department to roll out a single module on their laptop builds which can be configured to behave exactly like a device that is locked to the carrier that they want to use in that area. In the United States exactly the same hardware can be used on the CDMA network or the GSM network of their choice. For GSM users that travel out of the United States the Gobi solution can be used to avoid international roaming charges by switching the SIM and the device's carrier image to a local provider instead of incurring the roaming charges. In both scenarios the customer must have different wireless accounts with each provider they wish to use natively. It typically takes 20 seconds for the device to load the carrier image into NVRAM and reset and come back online. Gobi 3000 is the next hardware revision of the Gobi platform and it natively supports HSPA+. The model for Gobi 3000 is different. It is a reference design the OEMs can licence and produce their own Gobi 3000 compliant modules with their own extensions. Qualcomm does not sell any Gobi 3000 silicon. The reference design allows the same boilerplate hardware and software components for the basis of OEM chips which allow the OEMs to focus on innovations on the mobile broadband platform rather than getting bogged down with low-level RF implementations. Future Gobi platforms will support LTE natively. Currently, some Gobi 3000 modules support LTE through their own extensions.
Mirasol displays - Mirasol displays are the world's first and only reflective, bistable display based on IMOD technology. Qualcomm's mirasol displays use ambient light as their source of illumination and consume almost no power when the image is unchanged. This results in a very low power display solution that is visible even in direct sunlight.
Operating system - BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) is a proprietary cell phone application platform. BREW is designed so that the platform rejects unsigned applications. In order to have an application signed, a developer must pay a testing fee to National Software Testing Labs (NSTL), which then can approve or deny the request. This allows carriers to maintain control over the applications that run on their customers' phones. BitPim is a popular open source program which can access the embedded filesystem on phones using Qualcomm MSMs via a cable or Bluetooth. It should be pointed out that signing systems are also used in Apple IOS, Java ME, and signing is often required by carriers and OEMs.
Speech codec - Qualcomm has developed an audio codec for speech called PureVoice, which, besides use on mobile phones, was also licensed for use in the very popular Chinese instant messaging software Tencent QQ.
FEC codec - After its acquisition of Fremont-based Digital Fountain in 2009, Qualcomm developed the latest generation of Raptor codes called RaptorQ.
Eudora client - Qualcomm formerly developed and distributed Eudora, which it acquired in 1991 from its author Steve Dorner. Qualcomm ceased sales of Eudora on May 1, 2007. Qualcomm has committed to co-operate with Mozilla developers to develop a Eudora-like version of Thunderbird, called Project Penelope.
Eudora servers - Qualcomm formerly developed and sold email servers for multiple platforms, including WorldMail for Windows and EIMS (Eudora Internet Mail Server) for Macintosh. Qualcomm no longer sells these products. Qualcomm continues to maintain and distribute the popular open-source Qpopper for Unix and Linux.
QChat is a Push-to-Talk (PTT) technology. The QChat software application was developed by Qualcomm Internet Services (QIS)  a division of Qualcomm and part of the Qualcomm Wireless and Internet group. QIS offers a set of software products and content enablement services to support and accelerate the growth of the wireless data market.
Qualcomm developed QChat to provide a reliable method of instant connection and two-way communication between users in different locations, but operating within the same type of network architecture. Prior to the existence of cellular and personal communications services networks, this type of communication was limited to private Land Mobile Radio System (LMR) technology used by public safety and utility service agencies. LMR has limitations, specifically its usage can be restricted by geographic coverage area and by use of disparate frequency bands.
QChat, an application developed for the BREW platform, is a PTT communication technology for 3G networks. QChat handsets and server software allow users to connect instantaneously with other QChat users anywhere in the world with the push of a button. In addition, QChat enables one-to-one (private) and one-to-many (group) calls over the 3G networks.
QChat uses standard Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies. VoIP is a voice delivery mechanism that uses the Internet Protocol to manage the delivery of voice information. Voice information is sent in digital form over IP-based data networks (including CDMA) in discrete packets rather than traditional circuit-switched protocols such those used in the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
QChat users on 3G wireless devices can connect to each other worldwide, in either private or group calls, with the push of a button. QChat uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies to allow subscribers to communicate by using a PTT button on the handset instead of making a standard cellular call.
QChat calls are created by combining separate point-to-point connections between each IP endpoint; the process is managed by the QChat Applications Server, which is deployed on the carrier’s IP-based Wide Area Network (WAN).
To initiate a call, a user presses the PTT button and receives an immediate indication of whether the call recipient is available. If he or she is, the caller can begin speaking immediately. If the recipient is unavailable, the caller will simply hear a negative response tone instead of a busy signal or voicemail.
On October 16, 2006 Sprint Nextel announced an agreement with Qualcomm to use QChat to provide high performance push-to-talk services to its customers on the Nationwide Sprint PCS Network, using CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Revision A technology.
QChat is able to inter-operate with iDEN push-to-talk handsets on the Nextel National Network.
Sprint's phones supporting QChat technology were released starting in April 2008, with a trial of business customers in Kansas and Colorado. Sprint then announced that the Nextel Direct Connect devices powered by QChat were available in more than 40 markets in June 2008.