Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Qualcomm CEO Worried About End Of Moore's Law

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 22, 2013

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Paul Jacobs heads San Diego based Qualcomm — the world's largest fabless chip maker. 

By Intel Free Press

Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, was recently at the Computer History museum speaking about his career,  tablets, the growing mobile ecosystem, the establishment of the CDMA standard and the company’s digital sixth sense vision.

Responding to questions from the audience, Jacobs said the company was not bound by Moore’s Law but nonetheless he was worried about the future.

“Qualcomm is not based on Moore’s Law, but Moore’s Law created the opportunity that created Qualcomm,” said Jacobs. “We know how to get to smaller size nodes, but we see economic indicators slowing and we are worried about it — we can see the end from here.” He added, “If we can’t make cheaper transistors, we’ll look to other things like 3D.”

Jacobs’ appearance was part of the museum’s ongoing “Revolutionaries” series, sponsored by Intel. John Hollar, CEO of the Computer History museum, noted that perhaps the museum and the Revolutionaries series was serving as a kind of Switzerland, given the competition between the two companies.

Qualcomm is the clear leader in phones today and Intel continues to lead traditional computing segments. Qualcomm is ranked 29th in market capitalization at $113.82 billion, slightly edging out Intel, which ranks 30th at $111.85 billion.

Jacobs spoke extensively about his personal career trajectory and how he learned first-hand that the best technology doesn’t always win. At one point during the conversation, he mentioned a smart watch he was wearing as an example of where mobile technology is going, but when Hollar asked to see it, Jacobs coyly pulled down his sleeve and would not reveal the device.  

Qualcomm, along with several other companies including Google, Apple, Samsung and Intel are talking increasingly about wearable computing as the next big thing.

Jacobs also acknowledged Qualcomm was late to embrace tablets, saying “we we’re a slow starter,” and admitted that Windows RT “has not turned into a great business for us, but we’re optimistic.” He noted that the company has 40 tablet designs in the works.

Among the attendees, were 150 international students from countries such as Germany, South Africa and China participating in the People to People Technology program at Stanford University. Many of the students crowded around Jacobs after he left the stage to ask questions and pose for photos.

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