Paul Jacobs dismisses the myriad threats. The Nokia complaint in Europe is merely a political attempt to slow Qualcomm down, he says. The Broadcom suit is “without merit,” the company says. Intel’s Wimax dream is little more than a PowerPoint presentation, he adds. “They’re the kind of people who see the world as a nail because they have a hammer.”
To keep Qualcomm ahead, he puts his faith in innovation, packing ever more lifestyle features into the cell phone of the future. Picture-taking, music-playing, television, movies, videogames–Qualcomm engineers are integrating as much of this fun stuff as possible into their wireless chips. In three years the company has invested $4 billion in such pursuits as a better call-routing design, push-to-talk calling over the Internet, vivid color screens and ways to beam live, crisp video to handsets.
Next year Qualcomm launches its MediaFlo service, offering carriers 15 live TV channels and 40 channels of videoclips; it is spending $800 million to set up the net. It grew out of a random chat Paul had one day in late 2001 with Sanjay Jha, who now runs Qualcomm’s chip division. Paul pulled out his new iPod handheld player and rhapsodized, “It is so cool.” Soon they were what-iffing:Wouldn’t it be great if you could hear a song on the radio and buy it and download it at the press of a button on your phone? “And that is how MediaFlo was born,” Jha says.
It’s another long shot, but Paul Jacobs is undaunted by skepticism about the huge capital drain. Says he: “I think having people underestimate you is a good thing.”