What makes him powerful: Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has the distinction of being a leader in a thriving market that is growing at a fast rate. The company continues to benefit from its compelling IPR position thanks to the industry's widespread adoption of W-CDMA and EVDO. Just about every 3G device in the marketplace contributes to Qualcomm's licensing revenue, which jumped 44 percent in the company's fourth quarter earnings released earlier this month. Must of this trend is driven by the dramatic increase in 3G adoption in emerging markets.
Although much of Qualcomm's enviable patent portfolio was put in place long before CEO Paul Jacobs took the helm of the company, he has worked hard to position the company for continued growth.
One big win for the firm is Qualcomm's designation as the sole supplier of world-mode baseband chips in Apple's new iPhone 4S, replacing former baseband supplier Infineon. Apple has projected it will sell around 25 million of these devices by year-end.
In addition, Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset has been getting lots of traction in the market, and is currently being used in numerous 3G Android smartphones as well as emerging LTE devices such as those offered by both Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T).
The company is preparing to introduce a new line of Snapdragon chips, the S4 family, next year that will combine an application processor with an integrated baseband processor that supports the major 3G and 4G networks. This move will pit Qualcomm against other ARM-based processors from Marvell, Nvidia, Texas Instruments and others.
But Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 family will likely stand apart from the rest because the company plans to equip the chips with an integrated LTE multi-mode modem, which is important for supporting the diverse global deployments of LTE.
One area where Qualcomm is showing some weakness is in Microsoft's Windows phone 7 handsets. Although Nokia's recently launched Lumia handsets using Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets (the only chips that currently are optimized for the new Microsoft OS), Nokia confirmed that it will use ST-Ericsson silicon in a future waves of its devices.
Besides its core chip business, Jacobs continues to push his company to develop advanced technologies, such as the company's augmented reality software platform, or its Adreno graphics processor, that will help it make its chips stand apart from the competition. Further, Qualcomm is now a player in the PC market, and its chips are set to be installed in Windows 8 PC computers and tablets.
Clearly, Jacobs has the vision and the drive to keep his company moving forward with new technologies and pushing into new markets. --Sue