Qualcomm's CEO-elect backs away from Microsoft

6 January 2014 by Steve Blum
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Mollenkopf prepares to step into the spotlight.

“We continue to be optimistic about the future of the Windows ecosystem”, said Steve Mollenkopf, the man picked to take over as CEO of Qualcomm, starting in March. He was responding to a question about Qualcomm’s relationship with Microsoft, during a refreshingly informal press conference at CES today.

What Mollenkopf didn’t say, though, was even more important.

When quizzed about Qualcomm’s ability to move beyond media consumption and into mobile productivity devices, such as the Windows tablets that have stalled in the marketplace, Mollenkopf talked up the benefits of supporting multiple operating systems – which Qualcomm vigorously does – and then started waxing poetic about the wonders of media consumption. And, incidentally, pointing out that people are doing a lot of productive things on Android phones and phablets.

It was clear that he doesn’t think Qualcomm’s future will depend on Microsoft figuring out how to create and support mobile products and services.

He also dodged questions about the potential development of ARM-powered chips specifically for use in servers. In general, Mollenkopf was unapologetic about keeping tighter control on new product details. “We’re in the leadership position and don’t feel it’s necessary to tip our hand as early as others”, he said.

Qualcomm’s strength is in mobile products, and the chips it produces are putting more and more power into those smaller form factors, increasingly satisfying consumer demands that were previously met by more traditional CE products, like TVs and PCs. “It’s all about mobile”, Mollenkopf said. “If you’re looking at what’s driving growth, what people are excited about, they’re excited about mobile”.