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Qualcomm may land in hot water with EU regulators

Posted: , by Martin S.

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Qualcomm may land in hot water with EU regulators
Qualcomm, the number one mobile chip manufacturer, may be the subject of an antitrust probe according to a report by Reuters. According to sources, Icera, a subsidiary of Nvidia has filed a complaint with the EU Commission in 2010, charging Qualcomm with anti-competitive practices.

The sources say an investigation may commence after the summer. If it pans out, this would be a blow to the company, as Qualcomm is eager to end the current investigation by the Chinese authorities for monopoly practices. Another probe by the EU would be damaging to its reputation and likely affect business operations as well.

It is not clear if a decision on starting proceedings has been made. The Reuters piece suggests a final decision may be some time off. This would make sense given that August is a slow month for EU bodies as most bureaucrats are away on holiday. However, it may also suggest the institutions are carefully calculating their moves. Previously, Qualcomm was under fire from Ericcson, the Swedish mobile technology giant, and Texas Instruments, a US chip and component manufacturer. Their complaints led to an EU probe into the company's practices, but it was ultimately scrapped as the two dropped their complaints.

source: Reuters

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posted on 26 Aug 2014, 09:12 1

1. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

How do they figure? Qualcomm has been around for ever!

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 10:26 1

3. DarkStar286 (Posts: 219; Member since: 18 Mar 2014)

How old the company is is irrelevant, it's about market share and it is starting to look like they have a bit of a monopoly. It doesn't help that Samsung don't tend to release the Exynos versions of their phones in the EU and Mediatek doesn't have much traction there.

I wouldn't say it's a monopoly yet, but unless we start seeing more mainstream phones with something other than a Qualcomm SoC in them it could turn into one.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 13:13 3

8. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

MediaTek probably sold more SoCs than Qualcomm this year. The only area Snapdragons dominate are the LTE-integration solutions, but that's soon over with the new Huawei, Samsung, MediaTek, Intel and I believe even RockChip SoCs that no only support 4G but are coming up top-end performance.

The only reason an Nvidia subsidiary is complaining is because everyone's buying every other chipset but theirs. :)

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 14:41 1

9. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4888; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

How can Qualcomm have a monopoly if there are other's out there? Is it Qualcomm's fault that they are in demand? Is Qualcomm sabotaging others? Really?

This is crazy & stupid.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 10:17 1

2. ojdidit84 (Posts: 458; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)

A subsidiary of nVidia, eh? No surprise seeing as they haven't been able to get any Tegra chips out of the door. Up until the K1, they were ok performing chips is recent years but battery life was far from stellar. The K1 is the top performing SoC but it's power consumption leaves it out of reach for smartphones and if brought down to smartphone levels, probably wouldn't keep up with the competition. TI dropped out of the chip business (and they had the best chips back then) and Intel is in the same boat as Tegra. Samsung's chips are good on performance and power consumption but they're only made in limited quantity and used only in Samusng phones globally except for a few Meizu and other Korean OEM's sold in Korea. Qualcomm is the only chip maker that really stepped their game up and brought forth a SoC with integrated modems to offer the most balanced performance/power consumption/integrated features.

I'm wondering if this is something to the likes of Intel a decade ago when they were caught giving deals to OEM's to use only their chips and not AMD's in PC's right after AMD was kicking their butts with Athlon x64 and their dual-core chips since their chips (Qualcomm) ARE in just about every single phone on the planet or whether the company is just miffed that they can't come up with a competitive enough package that's as all inclusive.

MediaTek is the company they ALL need to watch out for anyway...

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 10:29 2

4. nokia12 (Posts: 580; Member since: 19 Nov 2013)

even intel when it moves to 14 and 10nm , but i am happy with the move it will slow down qualcomm a bit and mediatek and tegra will be in the game giving qualcomm a run for their money .. plus we all know how pathetic 2014 has been with qualcomm monopoly.. pushing out old chips for premium prices .. looks like they all were on a vacation at the time of snapdragon 801

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 10:54 3

5. ojdidit84 (Posts: 458; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)

Yeah, I don't know what happened in this chip cycle. It's like they hit a road block with development and is why they're going with vanilla ARM cores for 808 and 810. I'd heard something along the lines of their next SoC being developed for the next fab process after 20nm.

With other chip makers dropping out or just not delivering in the past couple years and Qualcomm being pretty much the only big high performance player with a complete, balanced package and tech in devices moving faster and faster, the moves they've been making have been pretty slow compared to before even though they've always pretty much been on a two year cycle for their chip roadmaps.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 17:14

11. strudelz100 (Posts: 644; Member since: 20 Aug 2014)

Apple has been the only people doing anything interesting with ARM designs in ages. Krait is 3 years old and really lags behind except in huge devices with huge batteries.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 11:11 1

6. renz4 (Posts: 319; Member since: 10 Aug 2013)

are you saying that Icera can't compete well with Qualcomm because they were part of nvidia? this complain was made in 2010. nvidia only acquire Icera in 2011. so nvidia has nothing to do with this complain in the first place.

i'm not sure if Qualcomm did something similar what Intel has been doing in the past but for their part Qualcomm only interested dealing with big company. That alone making much smaller company looking away from their chip.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 11:46 1

7. ojdidit84 (Posts: 458; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)

Which also makes me wonder what this is really all about. Qualcomm's chips were pretty lackluster next to what the competition had back then.

After some digging though, I see that they were investigated by the FTC in 2010 for charging higher royalties to OEM's that purchased chips from competitors than they did OEM's that purchased chips only from them in Korea. This may be similar to that. If so, that's pretty lame and similar to Intel back in the day.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 16:07

10. saiki4116 (Posts: 404; Member since: 31 Mar 2011)

Icera produces Baseband processors i.e chips that are responsible for actual transmission and reception on air interface. Qualcomm also produces Baseband processors and they integrate with their chipsets making their chipsets an attractive choice for OEM's. Nvidia is losing out business because of that, and they acquired Icera for that. As for K1 power consumption, it is more of due to A15 architecture itself, even Samsung had problems with that and they sold those chips in Asia, where consumer laws are very relaxed

posted on 27 Aug 2014, 11:51

13. ojdidit84 (Posts: 458; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)

Yeah, I read up on it. They got sued and fined in Korea for charging more to OEM's that were using their competitors chips instead of theirs. Seeing as Icera produces these chips it makes sense that QC is most likely being sued for the exact same thing that they were sued for in Korea in 2010.

I still say that this may have had something to do with NV since Icera has had agreements with Icera to use their baseband chips since 2009 before nVidia eventually acquired the company in 2011.

posted on 26 Aug 2014, 20:35

12. SemiFinal (Posts: 117; Member since: 26 Jul 2014)

The only reason Qualcomm may seem like a monopoly is because they have high quality, well-equipped chips that most other manufacturers can't compete with. People buy what they want, simple as that.

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