Now Intel could buy Qualcomm

Yesterday, the White House officially shut down Broadcom’s attempted hostile takeover of Qualcomm. Our blog has been following this deal closely since the beginning, and with good reason — Broadcom’s and Qualcomm’s chips power most of the good stuff we sell at, from satellite receivers to cellular phones. The two companies have been fierce rivals for years, with Qualcomm recently surging forward as the manufacturer of choice for Android CPUs.

The deal was blocked yesterday due to national security concerns. You see, Broadcom started as a US company but through a series of twists and turns is no longer US-based. Despite promising to move operations back the US, our government deemed the deal too risky, something they have every right to do. However, as the title of this article will tell you, the story’s not over yet.

Intel has struggled for years to find a hold in the mobile space. While no one questions their dominance in the PC market, they’ve never done a good job as a maker of cell phone CPUs and that has threatened their decades-long dominance in the chip market. Despite some recent wins, getting some supplementary chips into iPhones, Intel is still not thought of as a leader in cell CPUs and that’s the market to be in today.

Several sources including Investopedia are shopping a rumor that Intel is now planning to buy Qualcomm. As Intel is and has always been an American company, presumably the government would not act to stop this deal. Intel is a large and wealthy company and could make the purchase easily. A move like this would catapult Intel into the mobile space, somewhere they desperately want to be.

It would also give Intel the hardware it needed to finally move into streaming video in a big way. While the company does make a version of its Atom chip that is used in some streaming boxes, this couldn’t be the limits of its ambition. Although nearly forgotten today, Intel actually showed a streaming box back in 2012 with lofty ambitions: it was designed around a live streaming TV service. This doesn’t sound surprising today, but back then no one thought it could be done. The project was abandoned by Intel and sold to Verizon who turned parts of it into its largely ignored go90 service.

The point is, there have to be people inside Intel who still want to dominate streaming and having Qualcomm’s assets could give them a leg up there.

The Intel angle is still a rumor and so it seems that I’ll probably be blogging about this one for quite a while to come. It does seem like an interesting way to go. Intel would be a clear winner here, putting its chips into nearly every smartphone. Broadcom, once a symbol of American innovation until it was sold to an overseas concern, would be the definite loser. We’ll have to all wait and see.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.