What a Potential Acquisition of NXP by Qualcomm Would Mean

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4Q 2016 | IN-4295

If Qualcomm were to acquire NXP, the deal would likely be over $30 billion. This wouldn’t happen for another few months, if it happens at all, but competitors of Qualcomm better start planning.

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Potential NXP Acquisition


There was a time when Qualcomm was letting its wireless connectivity business languish after purchasing Atheros. Over the last several years, Qualcomm has breathed new life into its wireless connectivity from innovation to smart implementation. A potential $30 billion acquisition of NXP would help Qualcomm in a few ways.

Qualcomm’s Wireless Connectivity Baseline for Context


Qualcomm is a leading provider of wireless connectivity chipsets. This holds true for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GNSS. Qualcomm acquired CSR, which had a dominant position for Bluetooth used in speakers, cars, and other products. After many years of playing second fiddle to Broadcom in the Wi-Fi space, Qualcomm started leading in Wi-Fi chipset innovation. Not only did Qualcomm have integrated platforms with wireless connectivity (Snapdragon), but it started including Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO more than a year before others did. In addition, Qualcomm has been offering chipsets with SON (self-optimizing network) capabilities as a standard plus feature. SON is one of the key new features that will be included in 802.11ax. Not only does Qualcomm have a leg up on SON implementation for Wi-Fi, it is already commercially successful. ABI Research believes all of the new Wi-Fi mesh routers that have been coming to market and getting positive reviews are using Qualcomm’s Wi-Fi chipsets.

However, Qualcomm has not been as successful with NFC. An NXP acquisition would flip that around and provide more benefits.

What an NXP Acquisition Does for Qualcomm


An NXP acquisition would do a few things for Qualcomm:

  1. Put Qualcomm into a leading position in the NFC chips market as well as secure smart cards
  2. Provide Qualcomm with a much greater IoT product portfolio consisting of application processors, microcontrollers, wireless connectivity (Bluetooth, ZigBee, and NFMI).
  3. Put Qualcomm into a leading position in the automotive chipset market including processors, microcontrollers, connectivity, sensors, RFID, millimeter wave radar, and more.
  4. Position Qualcomm further for opportunities in robotics and industrial automation offering a broad range of discrete sensors including accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, rotational, angular, temperature, pressure, capacitive, touch sensors sensor hubs, and sensor data management.

As we have seen in the past, Qualcomm tends to partner with companies it is considering acquiring as a way of testing the investment out before executing it. Qualcomm did this with:

  • Atheros – Qualcomm and Atheros worked together to develop Qualcomm’s baseband Wi-Fi stack. Eventually, Qualcomm acquired Atheros when the project was successful, and this opened up further synergies.
  • Wilocity – Qualcomm and Wilocity partnered on early implementations of tri-band Wi-Fi – Qualcomm covered 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz while Wilocity provided the 60 GHz WiGig chipset. Eventually, Qualcomm acquired Wilocity.

Qualcomm is currently partnering with NXP around NFC after failing to gain significant traction in the space even though offered the NFC baseband as a part of its integrated platforms; most smartphone vendors still chose NXP for NFC. Broadcom had some big NFC wins and then lost them. Samsung is also using its own NFC solution in its smartphones. With NXP and Samsung dominating the NFC chipset market, Qualcomm rightly chose to partner with NXP. This partnership allowed Qualcomm to offer a complete solution that customers wanted as well as positioning NXP to secured further wins through Qualcomm. A win with NXP would be similar to its Atheros acquisition, which provided a range of wireless connectivity solutions, an innovative team, and wired connectivity solutions like HomePlug. NXP has a lot to offer Qualcomm across NFC and its IoT-centric solutions.