Qualcomm competes in the semiconductor and telecommunications equipment industry. This industry powers many of the devices and systems that keep us connected. It innovates at the cutting edge of mobile technology, enabling progress in 5G, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and automotive.
Qualcomm is one of the largest suppliers of chipsets for mobile devices and networks. It’s a market leader in LTE, 5G, and Wi-Fi chipsets and also supplies chipsets for automotive, IoT, and server applications, among others.
The diversified nature of Qualcomm’s business gives it a competitive edge as it is less reliant on any particular market. However, it also exposes Qualcomm to more competition as it must vie for market share across multiple industries.
A study by Fortune Business Insights forecasts the global semiconductor market to reach $1,380.79 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 12.2% from 2022. Another study by Research and Markets forecasts the telecommunication equipment market to grow by 6.40% CAGR from 2020 to 2027, reaching $743.8 billion.
These two studies highlight the growing demand for semiconductor and telecommunications equipment, which is good news for Qualcomm.
However, it also means that there will be more competition in these industries as companies jostle for market share. This Qualcomm competitors analysis will thoroughly explore the competitive landscape and identify the key players that threaten Qualcomm’s business.
Bottom Line Up Front
Qualcomm competes with traditional semiconductor companies such as MediaTek, Apple, and Samsung and telecom equipment providers such as Nokia and Ericsson.
The company also manufactures chipsets for electronic devices, making it a direct competitor of companies like AMD, Intel, and Google. Qualcomm’s main competitive advantage is its portfolio of patent-protected technologies, which it licenses to customers.
List of Qualcomm Competitors
Qualcomm: Company Overview
Qualcomm, Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) is a world leader in 3G, 4G, 5G, and next-generation wireless technologies.
The company’s portfolio includes products for RF systems, modems, platforms, processors, and software solutions. As a pioneer in CDMA, OFDMA, and other wireless technologies, Qualcomm’s ingenuity powers the development and commercialization of some of the world’s most advanced wireless devices and networks.
A group of seven, including Irwing Jacobs and Andrew Viterbi, founded Qualcomm in 1985. Initially, Qualcomm operated as a contract research and development center for government and defense projects.
Later, they diversified into digital wireless communications and became a leading developer of CDMA technology. CDMA gave way to the development of OFDM, a key technology for 4G and 5G.
The company has its headquarters in San Diego, California, and trades on the NASDAQ under the ticker QCOM. As of September 23, 2022, Qualcomm had a market capitalization of $135.03 billion. The company ranks 107th on the Fortune 500 list and is a component of the S&P 500 index.
Qualcomm Competitors Analysis
Below is a detailed Qualcomm competitor analysis. I’ll analyze the company’s competitors by looking at their core businesses, revenue models, strategies for growth, and recent financial performance.
MediaTek Inc. (TWSE: 2454) is a Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company that provides system-on-chips (SoCs) for wireless communications, HDTV, DVD, mobile devices, and Blu-ray. Founded in 1997, MediaTek has its headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan, and employs over 17,440 people, including those from its subsidiaries.
The company trades on the Taiwan Stock Exchange under the ticker 2454. As of September 23, 2022, MediaTek had a market capitalization of NT$923.082 Taiwan New Dollars ($29.03 billion).
MediaTek’s primary revenue sources are from selling chipsets and system-on-chips for mobile devices, home entertainment, and connectivity products.
Data from Statista indicates that MediaTek accounted for 33% of the global smartphone application processor (AP) or system-on-chip (SoC) shipments in the second quarter of 2021.
Although it significantly decreased from 40% in the third quarter of 2021, it was still higher than Qualcomm’s market share of 30%. As a leader in this segment, we expect MediaTek’s revenues to continue growing in the future.
From our analysis, Qualcomm holds a performance advantage over MediaTek in 5G and flagship smartphone chipsets in the low to mid-range market segment.
However, MediaTek has the pricing advantage as it offers cheaper chipsets for mid-tier and entry-level smartphones. The company is also quickly expanding its customer base and product portfolio to include more premium chipsets.
Fiscal 2021 was a strong year for MediaTek. The company reported NT$493.415 billion in revenues, representing a 53.2% increase from the previous year. Its net income increased significantly to NT$111.873 billion, up 170% from 2020.
Assuming 2021’s average exchange rate of NT$1 = $0.0358, Qualcomm had better US GAAP financial results than MediaTek.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KRX: 005930) is a South Korean multinational electronics company that manufactures and sells semiconductors, mobile devices, home appliances, and more. The company has its headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, with operations in over 70 countries and more than 290,000 workers.
Samsung is the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones. The company is also a leading producer of application processors (APs), light-emitting diode (LED) components, and flat-panel displays.
The company ranks 18th on the Fortune Global 500 list and is one of the largest technology companies in Asia, with US$244.3 billion in 2021 revenues.
Samsung competes with Qualcomm in the smartphone chipset market. The company’s flagship Exynos chipsets power its Galaxy S and Note smartphones. In 2021, Samsung launched its 5G-enabled Exynos 2100 chip, which helps the company better compete with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 5G chip.
The company is also expanding its foundry business to provide chips for other companies. In August 2020, Samsung announced it would build Qualcomm’s 5G modem chipsets on its 5-nanometer process.
While this deal is a positive for Samsung, it remains to be seen how much of an impact it will have on Qualcomm’s business.
Samsung is a massive business with a diversified product portfolio. In FY 2021, its semiconductor business brought in approximately $73.2 billion in revenue, up from $57.18 billion in 2020. Although semiconductors don’t form most of Samsung’s business, they are a rapidly growing segment for the company.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is an American multinational technology company that designs, manufactures, and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. The company has its headquarters in Cupertino, California, and employs around 154,000 people worldwide.
Apple is the world’s most valuable company, with a market capitalization of over $2.418 trillion as of September 23, 2022. The company is also the largest publicly traded corporation in the world by market capitalization. Apple ranks 3rd on the 2022 Fortune Global 500 list with revenues of $378.32 billion.
Apple’s growth strategy centers around its unique ecosystem, which includes its hardware (iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch), software (iOS, Mac OS, iCloud), and services (Apple Music, App Store, Apple TV+, etc.).
The company’s focus on delivering a seamless user experience helped it build a loyal customer base and generate high profits.
However, its competition with Qualcomm doesn’t center around ecosystem lock-in. Instead, it focuses on the intellectual property (IP) used in wireless chipsets.
In 2017, Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion, alleging that the company had withheld $1 billion in rebates because Apple cooperated with Korean antitrust regulators investigating Qualcomm’s business practices. The two companies eventually settled the lawsuit in 2019.
But that doesn’t mean that the competition between them ended. Both companies are now fighting for supremacy in the 5G market. In the agreement reached in 2019, Apple paid Qualcomm for the supply of 5G chipsets for its iPhones.
However, the company is also working with Intel on 5G chipsets and is reportedly planning to use them as soon as 2023.
Apple will have more control over its 5G destiny if it can wean itself off Qualcomm’s chipsets. However, that will be a tall order given Qualcomm’s significant lead in the 5G market.
But Apple is willing to invest in better technology and has the resources to catch up. So, Qualcomm should never underestimate its biggest competitor.
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) is an American multinational corporation specializing in designing and manufacturing computer chipsets and microprocessors. The company has its headquarters in Santa Clara, California, and employs over 121,100 people worldwide.
Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce founded Intel in 1968. The company went public in 1971 and rapidly grew to become the dominant player in the computer chipsets market. Intel mainly focuses on producing chips for use in PCs and servers.
While the company has diversified its product portfolio over the years, PC chipsets still form the core of its business.
The rivalry between Intel and Qualcomm dates back to the early days of the smartphone market. In 2007, Qualcomm introduced its Snapdragon line of mobile processors, quickly gaining popularity among smartphone makers.
In 2009, Intel entered the smartphone market with its Atom line of chipsets. However, Intel failed to gain much traction in this market and exited in 2016.
Qualcomm has always been the more robust competitor in the smartphone market due to its focus on this market and its investment in 5G technology. However, it’s also advancing in the PC market with its new line of Arm-based Snapdragon laptop processors.
Qualcomm recently acquired Nuvia, a startup that makes high-performance Arm-based processors, which will help it compete more effectively against Intel in this market.
Despite the raging competition, Intel and Qualcomm made a deal that let Intel foundries produce some of Qualcomm’s chips.
Although this was a surprising move, it shows that the two companies are willing to work together in some capacity. Only time will tell how this new relationship will affect the competitive landscape.
The addition of Google to the list of Qualcomm’s competitors might come as a surprise to some. But the company is a major player in the smartphone market and has been ramping up its investment in this space in recent years.
Google’s primary business is internet-related services and products, but it also designs and manufactures smartphones, smart speakers, and other consumer electronics. Google’s revenue for 2021 was $256.74 billion, up from $181.69 in 2020.
Google’s history in the smartphone market goes back to 2010 with the release of its Nexus One phone. The company has since released several other Nexus phones and a line of Pixel smartphones.
In 2016, Google acquired HTC’s smartphone business for $1.1 billion. This move gave Google more control over the hardware side of its smartphones.
Google’s entry into the smartphone market directly threatened Qualcomm’s business. Qualcomm has been the leading supplier of chipsets for Android phones.
But Google’s control over the software and hardware of its Pixel phones allows the company to use any chipsets it wants. The most recent Pixel phones, including Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, use Tensor SoCs, designed by Google.
I could have mentioned NVIDIA or AMD as two other companies that compete with Qualcomm in the chipset market. But I decided to focus on Google because of its increasing investment in the smartphone market and its control over Android.
Suppose Google uses its power to promote Tensor chipsets in future Pixel phones and other Android phones. In that case, Qualcomm’s position as one of the leading suppliers of mobile chipsets could be under threat.
I say this because a recent report by IDC indicates that MediaTek is now the leading processor vendor for Android phones, ahead of Qualcomm.
According to IDC’s Anthony Scarcella, Tensor was partially responsible for this change. If Google continues to invest in its Tensor chipsets and promote their use in Android phones, we could see a further decline in Qualcomm’s market share.
Qualcomm’s Growth Strategy and Revenue Model
Qualcomm’s growth strategy involves expanding its customer base and product portfolio. The company focuses on 5G as the next major growth opportunity and invests in research and development to quickly bring new products to market.
In its 2021 Investor Day presentation, the company said it plans to grow its chipset business to meet the $700 billion addressable market by the end of ten years.
The company makes money through three main reportable revenue segments.
- Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT)
- Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL)
- Qualcomm Strategic Initiatives (QSI)
Qualcomm also has a fourth segment, which it refers to as other segment. The QCT segment reports revenue from the sale of chipsets, system-on-chips (SoCs), and development services.
The QTL segment reports revenue from the licensing of Qualcomm’s patents. The QSI segment includes investment income from Qualcomm Ventures and other strategic initiatives.
The company reported $33.566 billion in GAAP revenues and $33.467 billion in non-GAAP revenues for fiscal 2021.
GAAP net income (loss) was $9.043 billion, and non-GAAP net income (loss) was $9.811 billion. Despite making losses, its revenues increased 29.37% from 2020. The company attributed this to higher sales in the QCT and QSI segments, driven by 5G smartphone demand.
Qualcomm’s SWOT Analysis
Below is a sneak peek of Qualcomm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats:
- One of the leading suppliers of mobile chipsets globally
- Strong research and development capabilities
- Focused on 5G as a major growth opportunity
- Built strong relationships with customers and partners
- Strong brand name
- Strategic alliances
- Threat of substitutes
- High dependence on the smartphone market
- Intense competition
- Growing demand for 5G smartphones
- Opportunities in the IoT market
- Strategic alliances and partnerships
- Entering into new markets and geographies
- Google’s control over Android
- Declining market share
- Intense competition
- Changes in government regulations
- Unfavorable macroeconomic conditions
Qualcomm Competitors Analysis (FAQs)
Question: What is Qualcomm’s competitive advantage?
Answer: Qualcomm’s main competitive advantage is its portfolio of patent licenses and technology. The company’s strong research and development capability allow it to quickly bring new products to market.
Moreover, it has built strong relationships with customers and partners, which gives it an edge over its competitors.
Question: Is QCOM stock a good buy?
Answer: Qualcomm stock is a good long-term buy. The company established dominance in the market based on its technical capabilities and not political prowess.
It leads the industry in developing and commercializing new wireless technologies, such as the chips needed to power Meta Platforms’ Oculus Qwest 2 VR headsets. With the accelerating global migration to 5G, Qualcomm is well-positioned to profit from this trend.
Question: Who are Qualcomm’s customers?
Answer: Qualcomm’s primary customers are smartphone manufacturers. The company’s major customers include Samsung, LG, Apple, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi. Other customers include automotive companies like Audi, BMW, Daimler, and Ford.
Qualcomm is a leading global provider of wireless technology and services. The company has a solid competitive advantage in the mobile market, with a wide range of products and services that address customers’ needs across the globe.
Most people know Qualcomm as the company that provides the chips that power many of the world’s smartphones.
However, Qualcomm faces stiff competition from several major players in the market, including MediaTek, Samsung, Apple, Intel, and Google. While Qualcomm has a strong market position and a robust product portfolio, it will need to continue to innovate to maintain its competitive advantage in the mobile market.