American chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. will probably be happy that a nightmarish year for the company is finally drawing to a close. On the one hand, the company’s flagship mobile SoC, the Snapdragon 810, suffered from allegations of poor thermal management leading to overheating while performing processor-intensive tasks. That meant poor sales of the company’s most powerful and high-margin offering in the market, especially with Samsung Electronics, one of Qualcomm’s largest customers, using its own in-house Exynos chips in its flagship smartphones this year. On the other hand, Qualcomm suffered severely because of antitrust investigations against the company, resulting in the San Diego, California-based chipmaker having to pay up almost a billion dollars ($975 million to be precise) to settle allegations of monopolistic trade practices by China’s National Reform and Development Commission (NDRC).
Now however, the company has been looking to start afresh in the New Year, by signing patent licensing agreements with two companies in China – the country’s largest consumer electronics company, Haier, and the owners of the K-Touch brand of smartphones, Beijing Tianyu Communication Equipment Company Limited. While the terms of the deals have not been disclosed publicly, Qualcomm has claimed that the contracts are in keeping with the agreement the company had signed with the NDRC back in February this year. This latest deal however, is the not the first time the American company has signed such licensing deals in China in recent times. Over the past couple of months or so, Qualcomm has signed similar licensing deals with a number of leading tech companies in the country, including the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei, TCL, ZTE and QiKu.
While Qualcomm has managed to get away with a sub-billion dollar fine in a country where its revenues from royalties totaled over $7.57 billion last year, the company still has trouble brewing in the European Union, where the region’s trade regulators accused the company of predatory pricing earlier this year. Reports also indicate that Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission has recently ordered a probe into the company’s patent licensing practices, no doubt, creating even more discomfiture for the San Diego-based tech company. Qualcomm however, has put up a brave face, and having described 2015 as a year of transition, held out hope that the next year will bring bigger and better things for the company.