Why is there no company like Huawei in the United States? Qualcomm founder explained

On the occasion of celebrating the 35th anniversary of the founding of American chip giant Qualcomm, the company’s founder Irwin Jacobs (Irwin Jacobs) accepted an exclusive interview and talked about the so-called “wireless jihad” and why the United States does not have a company like Huawei to lead the next generation Wireless infrastructure development.

Jacobs is a legend in the chip industry, won the Marconi Award (Marconi Award), is also the recipient of the 2008 Silicon Valley Visionary Award (Silicon Valley Visionary Award). He was a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and later founded a company called Linkabit with friends, which he then sold in 1985. Jacobs originally planned to retire, but his friends persuaded him to co-found another company focused on wireless business-Qualcomm.

Jacobs recalled: “Although we have no product prototype, no business plan, no electronic form in our hearts, but we will come up with many things that interest us. Therefore, I assure my wife that after several years of hard work, we The number of employees in the company may reach 100.” Today Qualcomm’s market value has reached 134 billion US dollars.

At the time, existing wireless standard competitors had limitations on the number of calls they could handle, and Jacobs wanted to find a better alternative, code division multiple access (CDMA). The origin of this concept can be traced back to 1940, when actress Hedy Lamarr and her colleagues considered the idea of ​​using multiple frequencies to send a single message. One day, Jacobs was cycling from Los Angeles to his home in San Diego along the Corniche, and he realized that CDMA might be a better mobile wireless standard with greater potential capacity. He quickly asked his team to apply these concepts to actual technologies and applied for patents for these innovations.

Of course, no one really understood that wireless standards would become the cornerstone of communications in the entire modern world . As Jacobs said, he outlined his standards at a meeting of CTIA, a wireless communications industry organization. He said: “There were about 100 people at the meeting. We made a slide presentation, which included the reasons why we thought the problem had been solved, and the advantages. No one found an error, but no one clearly expressed support.”

The next few years were called “wireless jihad,” Jacobs and his team tried to make CDMA a viable technology in wireless devices. To help prove its advantages, Qualcomm had to develop its own chips and build commercial phones and base stations.

Jacobs said: “Obviously, it takes a lot of money and time to do this. Some operators (such as AT&T) are convinced that this is feasible, so I asked them to persuade the manufacturer to obtain a license from us and come up with In this way: You pay us a fee first, and we will use this fee for research and development. If the research and development really becomes a commercial product, we can collect royalties from each device sold. This is the original intention of the authorization system. .”

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Picture: Qualcomm founder Owen Jacobs

At first, Qualcomm produced its own mobile headsets and sold them in Asia. At that time, Qualcomm went public in 1991. However, Qualcomm eventually sold this part of the business and became a strictly secret company.

This decision ultimately had a huge impact on the current chip market competition, especially the competition between Qualcomm and Huawei . The United States is currently doing everything it can to curb the use of Huawei’s products. If there is an American version of Huawei dedicated to developing the next generation of wireless infrastructure and selling products directly to people, all of this will become simple. So, why didn’t Qualcomm work hard to become Huawei?

Jacobs said: “We did consider this, but we hope that CDMA will be promoted globally.” He said that Qualcomm is still engaged in “jihad”, trying to make CDMA accepted everywhere. However, becoming a competitor to the operator will hinder the realization of this goal. In 1993, when CDMA became a wireless standard, Qualcomm’s strategy paid off.

Jacobs said he thinks other American companies such as Motorola will continue to stay in this industry. But one by one, they either went bankrupt or were sold to foreign companies . By selling integrated chipsets that can drive mobile phones to companies, Qualcomm actually makes it easier for new Chinese competitors to enter the market because they have the tools to develop products on the fly. Jacobs said: “Unfortunately, no one in the United States has actually done this.”

Another complicating factor is that the Chinese and European governments have helped their telecommunications companies through industrial assistance policies. Jacobs said: “Our government did not provide the R&D or other support that Huawei and ZTE received from the government.”

Jacobs also refuted allegations of excessive Qualcomm licensing fees. He said that although Qualcomm has provided more technologies, the licensing fee remains stable. Qualcomm not only monetizes existing patents, but also relies on continuous research and development, just like the company’s commitment to new 5G standards in the past decade. Do that. Jacobs said: “Unless you continue to run desperately, other people will surpass you. We have too many companies that have not invested in R&D, and have fallen into operational difficulties.”

Jacobs was originally scheduled to testify in court before Qualcomm and Apple reached a settlement. When asked what he would try to express if he appeared in court to testify, Jacobs replied: “We had a huge impact. Steve Jobs came up with a great interface that allows people You can take advantage of all these features that we have always provided. I remember that about 2000, I gave a speech and claimed that we were working hard to install the camera on the phone. At that time, everyone’s reaction was: “Why do you want to install on the phone? Where’s the camera?'”

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