Business, Hardware

Qualcomm?s 20th Annual Shareholders Meeting: Finances and Farewells

On March 6, 2012, Qualcomm held their 20th Annual Shareholders Meeting. Prior to the actual meeting, Qualcomm set up demos in the lobby of the Irwin M. Jacobs Hall at their San Diego campus.

We took a look at Qualcomm?s Vuforia augmented reality engine, which had been demonstrated previously at CES this past January. It allows a smartphone or tablet camera to identify 2D and 3D objects and enhance them with 3D graphics, video, sound, and interaction.

We got to see some of Vuforia?s capabilities which included playing virtual pool on a physical object and showing media that recognized an advertisement on a box. Vuforia also has possible implications for advertisers, as it can provide more feedback to an advertiser such as whether a consumer viewed or interacted with one of their advertisements.

We then checked out Qualcomm?s mirasol display e-readers, with offerings from Hanvon, Kyobo, Bambook, and Koobe, all currently available in Asian markets. Mirasol uses Interferometric Modulators (IMOD) which are simple MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical system) devices, or more simply tiny mirrors which reflect light and move in order to change light wavelengths to display colors rather than using a powered LCD or LED to illuminate the screen, making it an innovative and intriguing technology. Click here for a more in-depth description of the technology. What this technology amounts to is a full color display with incredibly low power consumption, perfect for e-readers and similar devices.

Qualcomm also showed off their 2net platform, described as a ?cloud-based solution that enables the wireless transfer, storage and display of medical device data.? It provides solutions such as enabling patients to track their own medical status, such as a diabetes patient tracking their blood sugar levels and insulin usage throughout the day. This platform also allows them to send this data to a medical professional, for instant analysis. Other possibilities include an alert system for patients with heart conditions or similar afflictions. On a broader level, it allows for better and more efficient data sharing and storage between medical providers, professionals, and patients.

We also took a look at Qualcomm?s Tagg Pet Tracker, a monthly fee based hardware and software solution for owners to track their pets.. It makes use of a a collar attachment for pets such as cats and dogs.

The attachment contains a Qualcomm wireless chip that gets registered with the service. Users then install the Tagg app either on their mobile devices or login online in order to track their pets. Users also can set an electronic perimeter for their pets. When the perimeter is activated, the user is sent a notification if a pet strays outside said perimeter, this notification also includes the pet?s current location. However, users can temporarily disable the perimeter when taking their pets outside of it intentionally, such as on walks. The collar attachment only requires charging approximately once every 30 days, using the provided docking station.

We also took a look at some mobile devices powered by Qualcomm?s latest Snapdragon processors, such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Samsung Focus, and others.

This led us to a demonstration of Qualcomm?s latest WiFi P2P platform: AllJoyn.
AllJoyn is an open source project designed to help developers easily connect devices via P2P over a WiFi network. The framework saves developers a lot of work when it comes to connecting devices whether it be for gaming, entertainment, productivity, or otherwise. We were shown the WhiteBoard and JamJoyn applications on a number of phones and tablets. WhiteBoard allows users to simultaneously draw and interact on a digital canvas and have what they do show up on other connected devices in real time. JamJoyn allows devices to stream music from one device to the other. Currently, AllJoyn is only available for the Android platform, but there are plans to expand to other operating systems.

After the product demonstrations, we were led into the main auditorium where the annual shareholders meeting began. CEO of Qualcomm, Paul Jacobs, began the presentation with a video which showed how people use products powered by Qualcomm in various ways, the same video that was shown for his keynote at CES earlier this year.

He then discussed the current financial state of the company, which has shown incredible growth over the last year with record sales for their mobile processors. Looking forward, there is expected sustained growth in the near future. Qualcomm has chosen to increase the amount of dividends paid to shareholders to $0.25 per quarter (amounting to $1.00 per year per share owned). Qualcomm is also initiating a $4 billion stock buyback. Other notable figures for the past fiscal year include: a revenue increase of 36% to $15 billion, an earnings increase of 33% to $5.4 billion, and $21 billion in cash assets at the end of the year.

Dr. Jacobs then spoke about Qualcomm?s current projects and areas of focus. The key areas of focus are: Smartphones, Emerging Regions, Non-Handset Devices, Connectivity, and Advanced Network Technologies.

Also mentioned was the development of the Snapdragon S4 line of processors, the MSM 8960, a dual core CPU at 28 nm architecture which is the first to have integrated 3G/LTE + AP connectivity.

We were also shown a demo of the APQ8064 processor, a quad core S4 with speeds up to 2.5 GHz (although it maxed out at 1.5 GHz during the demonstration).

Qualcomm showed that power efficiency on a quad core is possible by only turning on cores when they are necessary, and increasing and decreasing their clock speeds according to usage.

This year?s meeting was Irwin Jacob?s last as member of the company?s board of directors. Irwin Jacobs co-founded Qualcomm in 1985, and has seen massive growth since he started the company. A testament to his influence on the company?s culture came from his son, the current CEO, ?[Irwin] taught us that the high road is the only road to take, he taught us to treat employees like family.? At the age of 78, the former chairman and CEO of the company has officially retired from Qualcomm.