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Paul Jacobs

Qualcomm's Jacobs continues to expand wireless capabilities

Despite ongoing legal battles with some of the world's biggest wireless and cell phone companies, investors remained pleased with San Diego giant Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) at an investor conference in November.

"Our bottom line message is that we continue to remain buyers of QCOM shares as we believe investors will be paid to wait out the legal battle," Goldman Sachs analyst Brantley Thompson wrote in a note to clients.

This must make Paul Jacobs very happy.

Jacobs took over leadership of Qualcomm from his father, company founder Irwin, in 2005 after working in the company for 15 years. The younger Jacobs has helped make the company a pioneer in wireless, particularly in putting Internet capabilities into cell phones.

In 2007, the company took steps to expand wireless capabilities. The company acquired a mobile banking firm for $120 million in November, unveiled new chip sets and entered into several licensing agreement to make even more, and introduced new user interfaces. Even so, Jacobs says he wants to go further.

"There's just a huge number of services around the world," he said at a CDMA Development Group (CDG) conference in San Diego in October. "As we get broader and broader bandwidth, more and more capabilities go into the devices. There's just evermore kinds of services that are coming to bear."

Camille Sobrian, chief operating officer of local trade group Connect, said Qualcomm is still very much considered a leader in the wireless industry.

"Two areas they're doing very important work in are health care with wireless, and MediaFLO, which is TV channels for cell phones," Sobrian said. "They're really accelerating the creation of these kinds of businesses in the same way that they accelerated the creation of the cell phone business."

Wireless devices for health care are going to be especially important, Sobrian predicted. More and more patient information will be shared that way, decreasing the risk of human error, cutting back on paper and manpower, and making clinical trials faster and more efficient.

Sobrian said much of Qualcomm's success has stemmed from the company's ability to balance the small company freedom engineers need to foster creativity with the resources of a large company, and Jacobs has maintained this atmosphere. "They're very strategic and really good at managing the company as a large entity," she said.

She credited Jacobs with keeping profits high despite battling lawsuits.

"He's prepared for many years to take on this role," Sobrian said. "I think he's doing a great job."

While some lawsuits are still pending, with the European Union said to be taking an especially hard look at the company, Jacobs told a local industry group in September: "We're beating our competitors in the marketplace so they took it to the courts."

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