Qualcomm's investigation continued: triggering 4G independent intellectual property anxiety

"It's the first time that companies in the mobile field are standing here." At the beginning of this year, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs delivered a keynote speech "Born Mobile" at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in the United States. Said. The pre-show keynote at CES turned from PC to mobile for the first time in more than a decade, which meant the rise of the mobile era, and Qualcomm's debut also demonstrated its leadership in the mobile field.

From the historical surpassing of Intel's market value at the end of last year, to the presentation at CES at the beginning of this year, to the global LTE chip ride, Qualcomm has become a hotspot in the communications industry from a pure technology company. However, a series of incidents concerning China that occurred recently have made Qualcomm's success or failure completely exposed to the spotlight. In particular, Qualcomm's plan to charge TD-LTE patent fees has become an emotional vent for the Chinese communications industry's persistent cognition of the 4G standard of independent intellectual property rights.

Wind wave

The news came out almost at the same time. Seemingly unrelated, but inextricably linked.

Qualcomm issued an announcement on Monday stating that "The National Development and Reform Commission of China has initiated an investigation of Qualcomm in accordance with China's anti-monopoly law. The National Development and Reform Commission stated that the content of the investigation is confidential. Qualcomm is not yet aware of any monopoly, but will continue to cooperate A secret investigation by the China Development and Reform Commission. "This brief news triggered concentrated reports and speculation by major foreign media.

What may be related to the investigation of "antitrust" is Qualcomm's announcement at the analyst meeting that it will receive more royalties from China in 2014. Qualcomm pointed out that with China Mobile's commercial TD-LTE next year, Qualcomm will be able to provide chips and obtain royalties from China Mobile. At a sensitive moment when China is about to issue 4G licenses, this news put Qualcomm at the forefront of the domestic communications industry.

Almost at the same time as being investigated for "monopoly", Qualcomm broke the news of layoffs and will readjust its business in China. The adjustment includes the reduction of the poorly performing QRD team in China, which is likely to be a major change in China's chip business operation strategy with the conversion of 3G to 4G. Retention Jacobs said recently that the US restrictions on Chinese companies and the impact of the US National Security Agency ’s surveillance scandal exposure have “changed the way Qualcomm operates in China.”

There are many opinions

This series of events has aroused heated discussion among domestic and foreign communication industry and industry analysts. Especially in the recent Ziguang with a state-owned background, it has spent nearly 3 billion US dollars, and has successively acquired two Chinese chip manufacturers Spreadtrum and RDA Rui Di Ke listed in the United States, giving the industry more room for conjecture. Qualcomm announced that it would no longer make any statement after not knowing the reason, and there have been multiple versions of industry speculation.

Foreign analysts generally believe that the China Development and Reform Commission's investigation of Qualcomm has two main purposes. One is to pressure Qualcomm in this way before China launches 4G commercial services in order to take the lead in patent licensing negotiations. In the 3G era, China Mobile adopted the TD-SCDMA system, and did not pay royalties to Qualcomm. With the arrival of the 4G era, Qualcomm has a considerable number of TD-LTE basic patents, which has become a barrier that China Mobile cannot circumvent.

The second is to help local chip manufacturers develop and grow. Due to China Mobile's adherence to the "five-mode ten-band" 4G terminal strategy, Qualcomm occupies most of the share by virtue of its leading technical advantages, and most domestic chip manufacturers do not yet have the corresponding capabilities. Paul Jacobs also believes that the Chinese government hopes to create a larger domestic chip industry.

Compared with the past, the domestic controversy seems a little bit unreasonable: the focus is on whether TD-LTE is China's independent intellectual property standard. "Since it is China's independent intellectual property rights standard, why should it pay patent fees to Qualcomm?" Behind the point is the anxiety of the communication industry about the development prospect of independent intellectual property rights TD-LTE. However, some insiders pointed out that Qualcomm's patents are mainly on the terminal side, and it has little to do with whether it is "independent intellectual property standards". Obviously, the focus of the debate has deviated from the core of the problem.

Back to origin

In fact, the focus of attention at home and abroad is different. Foreign countries pay more attention to the anti-monopoly investigation of the China Development and Reform Commission and the reasons behind it. Domestically, they pay more attention to the possibility and rationality of Qualcomm charging TD-LTE patent fees. The two incidents that happened to Qualcomm collided with the previously accumulated Sino-US friction and national sentiment to make a meal that mixed nationalism and nationalism, and Qualcomm was no longer on the table.

The root of Qualcomm's charging of TD-LTE patent fees and the antitrust investigations is that Qualcomm has strong strength in the mobile field from IP to chip products. With the development of mobile communication technology, Qualcomm can be seen everywhere. At the end of last year, a Japanese industry person was not pessimistic that Qualcomm has almost no dead ends, and the good development momentum will continue, and terminal manufacturers should establish a good relationship with Qualcomm. In fact, in the LTE era, Qualcomm is indeed far ahead of other chip competitors.

Returning to the origin of this series of events, the focus is mainly on two aspects: whether it is a monopoly and whether patent fees should be paid. Although Qualcomm occupies a dominant position in the field of 4G terminal chips, it still faces strong competition. According to analysis, the profit rate is less than 20%. In the domestic market, Qualcomm also faces many potential competitors. Even though China Mobile ’s strategy has enabled Qualcomm to gain a greater competitive advantage, domestic chip manufacturers have accelerated their research and development progress under heavy pressure, and will have considerable competition by 2014. Strength. Of course, some analysts believe that the monopoly investigation may start with WCDMA.

With regard to patent licensing fees, the industry should pay more attention to the value of Qualcomm ’s patents, as well as the distribution of 3G / 4G patents and standard progress across the industry. As for whether it is part of an extensive investigation conducted by the National Development and Reform Commission to prevent the CPI from rising too fast, or competition at the national level, it is already a more macro issue based on the communications industry. "Let God return to God, let Caesar return to Caesar."

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