9. Paul Jacobs, Chairman and CEO, Qualcomm – Most Powerful People in Wireless

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Paul Jacobs, Chairman and CEO QualcommWhat makes him powerful: Paul Jacobs controls much of the silicon in the wireless industry. According to Strategy Analytics, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) earlier this year surpassed Texas Instruments as the world's leading provider of applications processors for smartphones, with a 50 percent market share. And Qualcomm is also the industry's leading provider of cellular baseband processors with a 45 percent share, according to Strategy Analytics.

This position means that Qualcomm's chips are powering a majority of the world's devices, which gives the company enormous power in terms of where it puts its energies and which wireless spectrum bands it decides to support. Indeed, Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) often points to Qualcomm's support of its planned TD-LTE network as a major milestone in Clearwire's quest to generate interest in TD-LTE technology at 2.5 GHz.

Jacobs has also managed to weather a significant amount of upheaval in the market for chipsets. TI recently voiced plans to withdraw from the smartphone market, thus paving the way for Qualcomm to grab more market share. And heavyweight Intel has made clear its intentions to challenge Qualcomm in smartphones (though Intel's share of the space remains relatively small).

But perhaps most importantly for Jacobs, he is working to expand Qualcomm's position in the market for Windows computers. Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8 platform can run on Qualcomm chips, which represents a major new market for a company. If Qualcomm is successful in breaking open the PC market, the move could significantly expand its reach and economies of scale.

But, to be clear, those aren't the only opportunities for Qualcomm. The company continues to tout its patent holdings and patent-licensing revenues, and it has invested in possible growth areas including wireless healthcare and augmented reality.

Of course, how the market plays out next year is anyone's guess, but Jacobs clearly hopes to retain the company's solid position. As if to highlight that effort, Jacobs recently announced he will provide the preshow keynote for the Consumer Electronics Show next year in Las Vegas, arguably the industry's most important trade show.+Mike

Special Report: Top 25 Most Powerful People in U.S. Wireless 2012