Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘qualcomm’

While we often think of small nimble startups as the true innovators in technology, that hasn’t necessarily been the case in network infrastructure for the last few years. A study of venture capital funding from Ovum shows that while overall tech investment has recovered since the dark days of the recession, the vast majority of that spending went to services and applications startups like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Spotify.

Meanwhile, the startup companies that make the gear over which those services traverse have seen investment fall from $796 million in 2009 annually to just $270 million in the 12 months ending in June, Ovum found. According to Ovum principal analyst Matt Walker:

“A funding disconnect has thereby emerged between network builders and network users. Lots of innovation and venture capital is targeting the network users, such as mobile apps and OTT platforms. However, little of it is directly helping the network builders. With a weak start-up pipeline, the industry relies more on incumbent vendors to generate new ideas and products. Their budgets are bigger, but VCs are often better at funding ‘game changing’ ideas ignored by established vendors.”

Admittedly, investing in the next big social network or an app that could generate millions of downloads is a lot sexier than, say, envelope tracking technology or cell site radio frequency filters. But those infrastructure innovations are just as important. The capabilities of many apps and services have already far exceeded the ability of our mobile networks to deliver those apps and services at a reasonable cost (think Netflix on 4G tablet). If we let network innovation slip, we could wind up with a bunch of very powerful services that have nowhere to go.

As Walker points out, the onus for innovation thus falls on the big established telecom vendors, and it’s quite the burden. Ovum estimates that with the falloff in startup investment, big network infrastructure makers’ R&D budgets are now 90 times larger than the investment going into networking startups –- that’s up from 30X two years ago.

Don’t get me wrong — the Ciscos, Ericssons and Huaweis of the world are responsible for some amazing science and innovation. And today they’re building the small cell and heterogeneous networks of the future. But there are limits to what the big vendors can accomplish. The R&D budgets of the big industrial labs have shrunk immensely in the last two decades, and there’s only so much talent and so many resources those vendors can devote to innovation.  The biggest issue, though, is that the big equipment makers innovate in much different ways than small startups.

Big vendors have big ingrained investments

Look around. A lot of the wired and wireline networks we use on a daily basis have been with us for a while. The first 2G networks in the US went up in the late 1990s and they’re largely still in use. A good part of the big vendors’ businesses is maintaining, upgrading and iterating on the networks they’ve already built.

That doesn’t mean the big vendors are merely redesigning the same old equipment, but they’re definitely looking for continuity with their older networks. Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio and Nokia Siemens’ Liquid Radio architectures, for instance, are truly mind-blowing approaches to the new heterogeneous network, but they’re still fundamentally the cellular technologies that have been these vendors’ bread and butter since the birth of wireless.

When Wi-Fi came along as a mobile data alternative to cellular, these vendors were resistant if not outright hostile. It took two startups, BelAir Networks and Ruckus Wireless to make the business case to carriers for large-scale outdoor Wi-Fi networks to supplement 3G and 4G networks.

 

The lightRadio Cube, Alcatel-Lucent’s vision for the small cell.

The big vendors are working largely within global standards frameworks. That’s by no means a bad thing. It’s why an iPhone can communicate with a Nokia-built base station, and a Cisco router can be plugged into an Ericsson core network. But standards work is painfully slow. A lot of the innovation work in networking technology works goes on outside of the standards bodies, and if that work proves successful it wind up shaping the standards themselves.

There’s probably no better example in wireless than CDMA. Qualcomm’s upstart cellular interface was initially adopted by a single US carrier, AirTouch, but it eventually became the basis for all global 3G networks.

Innovating between the lines

While the big vendors have focused on the overarching evolution of networks it’s up to infrastructure core technology startups to fill in technology gaps. Companies like NSN and Ericsson will most certainly handle the large-scale rollout of small cells and hetnets in the future, just like Apple and Samsung will be designing our future 4G smartphones and connected tablets.

But it will be startups like Seattle’s still under-the-radar PivotBeam that are developing the critical software defined antennas that will link these millions of small cells back to the network core. And it will be small engineering companies like Nujira and Quantance supplying the power envelope tracking technology giving those 4G phones a tolerable battery life.

I’m not saying all of these specific companies are all going to be the next Qualcomm, and that you should go invest in them. But they’re part of a critical network infrastructure startup scene, and that scene appears to be shrinking. We’re already starting to see the consequences. The industry has started delivering speed in the form of LTE but it has so far failed to deliver us the cheap capacity critical to moving the mobile industry forward. If the investors keep neglecting network startups, that problem is only going to get worse.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Article from GigaOm.

Fundamental changes in networking and computing are shaking things up in the enterprise IT world. These changes, combined with ubiquitous broadband and new devices like smart phones and tablets, are leading to new business models, new services and shifts in corporate behavior. It’s also leading to a lot of M&A activity as companies jockey for position before the ongoing technology shift settles into the new status quo.

A report out today from Deutsche Bank lays out some of the shifts and names what it believes are the 11 most likely acquirers, calling those companies the Big 11. The bank’s Big 11 are: Apple, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm. They were selected because of their size, their cash balance and their willingness to make strategic acquisitions. The report talks about which companies each might acquire, but it also gives a wealth of data on the companies which comprise the Big 11 that any startup looking for a buyer on the software and infrastructure side might find worthwhile.

In addition to the information on buyers, the report goes on to explain why many deals today are valued at multiples that are so much higher than the potential revenue of the company (HP’s buy of 3PAR is a prime example of this trend):

On the other hand, the multiples paid for these companies go counter to typical expectations for valuations. All of these deals were priced at considerable premiums to forward estimates. The implication is that the larger companies believed that there were strategic benefits far in excess of the smaller companies’ near-term prospects. A common criticism of acquisitions holds that management teams of large companies try to buy revenue and earnings to offset far lower growth rates in their core businesses. This does not appear to be the case with these deals. We see this as confirming our thesis that large companies are looking to buy technology and product synergies. In all of these deals, we see larger companies either significantly building up weak product lines or looking for the ability to bundle new features into existing equipment.

Some of the 50 targets mentioned are:

  • Salesforce.com (s crm )
  • VMware
  • Adobe
  • Citrix
  • Research In Motion
  • Riverbed Technology
  • SAP
  • Atheros
  • Skyworks
  • f5 (sffiv)
  • Juniper

Each are on the list of potential candidates for different reasons associated with improving the quality and speed of delivering web-based applications and services from a cloud-based infrastructure to a multitude of devices. However, there are plenty of startups and private companies that are pioneering new technologies in these areas which are also fair game. The report doesn’t go into the content side of the business where companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Disney, etc. are fighting for features and services to expand their reach and platforms.

Since we’re living through an enormous period of potential disruption thanks to technology, the giants in the industry find themselves playing a game of musical chairs as they seek the best seat at the table for the future. Startups and larger public companies that will help those giants fill out their offerings before the music stops are under the microscope and perhaps at the top of their valuations.”

Read the original post here.

Read Full Post »

Here is a good article from SF Chronicle that sheds some light on Apple and its renewed strategy on Mobile devices. With its launch of iPad, as well as the consious sidestepping from flash, a new and clear focus on iTunes and Appstore becomes much clearer – the focus on being the entertainment and content provider of consumer entertainment, and controlling the accesspoints secures large revenues from the convert. The larger question is if there are new areas previously untapped in this strategy that represent next level. With clear focus on casual consumption, everyday content and easy access, I have problem seeing next product line within this strategy.

– Patric

“Apple’s recent unveiling of the iPad was primarily a product announcement aimed at priming the pump for consumers, developers and content owners.

But for the notoriously secretive company, the iPad event provided observers with a glimpse of the company’s growing ambitions and strategies.

By trumpeting its own chipset for the iPad, passing on Adobe Flash software and putting even more emphasis on its iTunes system, Apple appears intent on tightening its command over the user experience and delivering a distinct vision of mobile computing, Internet connectivity and media consumption.

But perhaps the most obvious upshot of the latest unveiling was Apple’s continued recognition that its future, unlike its origin, is tied to mobile devices. Three years after dropping the word “computer” from its name, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs said the company’s annual revenue of $50 billion from iPhones, iPods and MacBook laptops make it the largest maker of mobile devices in the world.

“Apple is a mobile devices company – that’s what we do,” said Jobs, during the iPad event.

Tim Bajarin, president of technology consultancy Creative Strategies, said Apple recognizes that the computing landscape is expanding to a model in which everyone carries around an Internet device. With the iPad, Apple is seeking to shape and stay ahead of that future.

“Apple’s role is to bring digital technology to the masses,” said Bajarin. “They don’t believe it’s restricted to a desktop or a phone – it should come in all types of devices.”

While the iPad represents a new hardware market, some observers see the device as expanding Apple’s business in services and content delivery.

“In 10 years, Apple will be just as much of a services and a software play as a device manufacturer,” said J. Gerry Purdy, an analyst with MobileTrax, a mobile research firm. “I think that gives them a tremendous playing field opportunity.”

Making chips itself

Apple’s introduction of its own chipset for the iPad – called the A4 – suggests that the Cupertino company is even more focused on the marriage between its hardware and software, eschewing third-party chips that are used by most rivals.

Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight 64, questioned whether Apple’s chipset will outperform rival technology from Nvidia or Qualcomm. But he said the approach can result in some savings if it’s applied on a significant scale. And it allows the company to be less dependent on outside suppliers.

But perhaps most importantly, it gives Apple a way to tune its chips to fit the exact needs of its devices and software, allowing the company to achieve better performance and battery life.

“Apple’s gone from buying something off the rack to buying something where they have the pieces and they can tailor it themselves to their unique body shape,” Brookwood said.

Brookwood said he expects to see more of the A4 chipset if the iPad proves successful.

Apple’s iPad announcement also revealed a deeper antipathy toward Adobe Flash, the ubiquitous browser plug-in that enables most of the video and animations you see on the Web.

At the press event, Jobs avoided any mention of Flash, even when selling the iPad as delivering the Internet in your hand. And at a company staff meeting a few days later, Jobs reportedly called Adobe’s browser plug-in “buggy” and said the world will be moving to HTML5, a new Web language that will eliminate the need for Flash in many instances.

Tech pundits said Apple’s crusade against Flash appears to be philosophical, practical and political. The opposition might be a way to steer consumers to Apple’s iTunes and App Store, where they can find video content and applications that replicate the Flash content, often at a price.

“Apple’s position is they want to move things off the Web to the (iTunes) App Store,” said David Wadhwani, vice president and general manager of Adobe’s platform business. “Our position is we will support both models and let the consumer choose.”

Flash the next floppy disk?

Apple also appears reluctant to allow San Jose’s Adobe access to its iPhone operating system, especially when its Flash software is the cause of most of its crashes on the Mac, a claim Jobs reportedly made at his staff meeting. By advocating HTML5, Jobs could be attempting to help precipitate the decline of Flash, something he also predicted with floppy disk drives and more recently optical drives, wrote Farhad Manjoo, a technology columnist for online magazine Slate.

“Jobs could be betting that the same thing will happen with Flash,” Manjoo said. “There will be a lot of whining in the short run, but in time, we’ll all forget we ever wanted it and keep buying iPads.”

With Apple’s decision to go with the iPhone operating system, instead of Mac OS X or a hybrid, the company seems even more intent on using it as a major platform for mobile development. Apple has outpaced rivals in the mobile application market with more than 140,000 apps, but it has faced increasing competition from Google’s Android, which is also being pitched as a tablet operating system.”

Read Full Post »

As the economic slump is fading off, tech titans have amassed cash for possible takeovers. Here is an opionion further explaining this from 24/7 Wall Street Blog.

“The economy is obviously getting better, so long as you are not one of the unemployed or about to lose your job.  Now with more than a 50% rally from the March lows and a Dow Jones Industrial Average challenging the 10,000 level, suddenly everyone wants to put on their investment banker hats again and look for buyers and buyout candidates after deals are announced.  This week’s Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) deal for Perot Systems Corp. (NASDAQ: PER) was a $3.9 billion acquisition versus $12.7 billion in cash and equivalents held at the end of the quarter.  The Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) deal for Sun Microsystems Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA) is valued at $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun’s cash and debt.  We went back through our list from September 2, 2009 where we noted that outside of the financials  in the 20 largest US companies had a cash hoard of $335 billion that could be used for mergers and acquisitions, and that is not accounting for lines of credit, stock or debt that could be sold, and other means of financing a deal.  While nowhere near all of the cash will ever be used, many companies could pay big dividends before any tax changes.

So we wanted to look through the technology sector and after we looked through the top 100 markets caps in our 24/7 Wall St. Real-Time 500 we added a few new additions in the tech sector that still had over $5 billion in cash.  Out if the $335 billion from those in the top twenty, we broke out Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC), Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL).  Even after a huge rally, $335 billion and then some could go a very long way for strategic and bolt-on acquisitions as a positioning strategy for the next decade.  Now, going further down the list of the top 100 companies with $5 billion or more in cash from tech companies alone adds in Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ), QUALCOMM Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM), EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC), and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO). When we tally up all the cash, there is over $260 billion available from these few tech companies that could be deployed for mergers, acquisitions, or the good old dividends.  Again, that is before tallying up credit lines, factoring, debt sales, and other financing methods.

Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ) had almost $25 billion in cash and long-term investments.  Now that it has migrated away from just selling PCs and printers, we think that there will be a rather long lull before H-P tries to match its big buyout of EDS even if Dell is tip-toeing into IT-services and consulting with Perot.  But in the end, what we think may not matter.  Nearly $25 billion in cash when you know you will be profitable ahead leaves a lot of room to go out make purchases.

QUALCOMM Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) was the 29th largest company as of Wednesday with a $74.12 billion market cap. If you tally up its cash, short-term and long-term investments, it is sitting on almost $15 billion in cash and equivalents as of last quarter.  After all the lawsuits that the Jacobs team are settled, it might consider a way to deploy capital to get around future patent cases.  If only it was possible, although anything is possible.”

Read the full article here.

Read Full Post »

Here is an excellent article from the VC dispatch at Wall Street Journal.

“Though demand for mobile phones is at an all-time high, Sequoia Communications Inc., a developer of components for the devices, has found itself unable to raise additional venture capital and is closing its doors, according to an investor.

The San Diego company had raised about $64 million from nine venture firms over several rounds beginning in 2001, VentureWire records show.

Luis Arzubi, a general partner with Tallwood Venture Capital, which participated in three funding rounds for Sequoia, said the company felt the pinch from the world’s economic slowdown, competition from name-brand tech companies and the difficulty of keeping the company’s components in compliance with the rules and protocols of numerous overseas markets.

“The company was running behind its original schedule,” Arzubi said. “Venture capitalists are very cautious, and afraid of throwing good money after bad.”

The company developed a transceiver for mobile phones that worked well, he said, and had signed up customers. Sequoia was about a year away from breaking even when investors pulled the plug, he said.

Transceivers are one of many electronic components that enable wireless communication. They are capable of tuning in, modulating and broadcasting standard cell signals. Transceivers also exist in other electronics and are used to pick up and broadcast other types of signals.

Semiconductor giants such as Qualcomm Inc. and Infineon Technologies AG also build transceivers, and they have more resources to bring to bear on the process, Arzubi said. They also have a diversified line of products, which Sequoia did not.”

Read the fulla article here.

Read Full Post »