EU launches two antitrust investigations against Qualcomm

The European Commission has launched two formal investigations against Qualcomm to determine whether or not the chip maker engaged in antitrust practices. It's alleged the company has abused its market position by undercutting rival parties to force them out of the industry.

The first investigation will examine whether Qualcomm offered financial incentives to customers if they purchased baseband chipsets exclusively (or almost exclusively) from the company. The second investigation will look into whether Qualcomm sold its products below cost in order to drive rivals out of the market.

Both investigations will cover chips used for 3G and 4G technology, working off probing that has been underway since 2010. This isn't the first time the European Commission has investigated Qualcomm, with a 4-year long enquiry that ended in 2009. The company also had to fork out $975 million in China after settling with the country's National Development and Reform Commission in an antitrust dispute.

Update: Qualcomm released a statement commenting on the new European Commission investigation:

"We were informed that the European Commission has taken the procedural step of "initiating proceedings" against Qualcomm with regard to the two ongoing investigations into Qualcomm's sale of chipsets for mobile devices. This step allows investigators to gather additional facts, but it represents neither an expression by the Commission on the merits of the case nor an accusation against the Company. While we were disappointed to hear this, we have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with the Commission, and we continue to believe that any concerns are without merit."

Source: Politico

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

75 Comments
  • I'll give you the fat tip right here - I don't give a rats arse about Qualcomm. I'll be going straight to Intel soon as they launch. Continuum with desktop apps. One day it will be my one and only PC. Bring it...
  • Agreed. I can't wait for the Intel smartphones for Windows.
  • Now in curious about your PC usages. See a phone could never replace a PC for me. Whilst smartphones get more powerful the same is also true for PCs.
  • +930
  • You could just remote into a super machine in the cloud, open up your horizons
  • +640
  • You will give a rats a.. when you find that Intel cannot support cameras of Nokia's caliber
  • What's the difference between intel and Qualcomm processors?
  • QUALCOMM's are way better, up until now that is.
  • The architecture. Intel CPU's are x86-based, Qualcomm are ARM-based. It's like comparing a ship engine with a jet engine. They are both engines, but built with different purposes in mind.
  • Actually, some ship engines are derived from turbofans.
  • Unless MS makes changes to how Continuum works on phones, there is no benefit to having an Intel (x86) as there is no desktop. P.S. Intel uses the x86-64 instruction set, which is different from ARM instruction set, so programs made to one won't work on the other; the processors won't understand the programs. The way to get around that is to not use those instructions directly, but use a common instruction set that is then converted to the one the processor uses (either on installation or when running the program), but that is usually slower.
  • Which is the Windows runtime, and Universal App Platform. Programs are compiled to an intermediary language and published to the store. When a user installs a universal windows 10 app, what they get is a native binary for the architecture they are using. Windows 8 continued to run bytecode on both platforms.  This is why UAP apps launch faster and run smoother than their Win8 counterparts.   
  • Thinka about it... If Remote Desktop is released as a UWP app, then when you've docked your phone simply connect to a high end virtual PC in the cloud - Azure or any other for that matter. Then you can get a desktop on a phone, on a large screen when docked... Something I will consider. I already do a lot of remote desktop stuff on my 1520, Continuum takes it to the next level.
  • So what if there is no desktop? Didn't MS say that x86 can be packaged into the app store? As long as the app launches and I can work on it, I couldn't care less if I see the wallpaper of the desktop and the shortcuts that are pinned to it. The only question is how does multitasking work with continuum. Can you snap or run apps windowed when the device is connected to a large monitor? I don't think I saw that demoed. Even if apps run only full screen, continuum will still be a very useful feature.
  • I want Intel Windows mobile anyways
    To the point: I always ask my self why are there only Qualcomm processors, I know they are good, but still. Edit: Continuum of course :)
  • Because Intel missed on mobile just like Microsoft did, and until the Cherry Trail Atom chips, they didn't have a chip that could compete with the best ARM chips. They still don't in terms of graphics performance, but they've closed the gap.  
  • Because that's how far Intel has been behind tech-wise initially. Now, there's no reason to switch to x86/x64 architecture, except for Windows based devices. It's sort of the same reason that MIPS, Alpha and Arm just never really took off for Windows.
  • As the manufacturing node gets smaller, so does the intepretor part of it (which is much larger on x86 than ARM), so relatively more of the die can be allocated elsewhere, and because the instruction set is more comprehensive it is actually faster (sometimes 1 instruction vs 2 - 4) it can be expected that x86 will catch up to ARM and surpass it. That's according to my very limited understanding of CPUs. Another 2-3 node shrinks might do it (when it's 8nm - 10nm).
     
  • Intel already outperforms ARM.  The issue isn't performance, it's power management and heat.  ARM chips generally run cooler and the power management is superior.  That's why they've been at the fore with embedded devices. For a desktop system that stays on the plug, I'm not sure why anyone would go with ARM unless it's a server.  For a laptop, I'm not sure why anyone would go with ARM unless it was a thin-client type machine like a ChromeBook. I can see ARM eventually making inroads in Gaming Consoles, but generally if Microsoft goes X86 for XBox, Sony is likely to use a similar setup to not potentialy drop performance to them, which can affect sales.
  • The Xbox one and ps4 already run on x86.
  • AMD woot!
  • Guess Mediatek, Samsung and Intel would be quietly smiling right now
  • Samsung smiling cause their Exynos was the better chip this round and they got QC business to build the 820. Win win for them Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • EU sorting out problems the Americans can't be bothered with again.
  • America has it's own crazy problems to deal with right now.
  • Word up!
  • If only the EU could sort out the Internet effective monopoly in the US. Would be nice to have a choice other than Comcast.
  • There may only be a cable provider but you do need to look over your area closer... You also have phone company and wireless that provides internet service as well...
  • Not always. There is known collusion between the providers not to infringe on each others 'territories'.  
  • I am sure there is worst people than Qualcomm in the world.
  • All this anti trust probes by EU and Chinese are nothing but to squeeze some money out of the so called accused. Tell me one company that came out clean. Almost all multi billion dollar ended up paying 3/4 - 1 billion
  • Maybe they're companies that try to screw over consumers by getting rid of competition. Without the anti trust probes by the EU who else would stand in the way of greedy companies? USA??? You should be grateful that organisations are fighting for your rights as a consumer.
  • I totally agree with you but sometimes this looks like an abuse rather than an investigation. Look at what China is doing to Apple and Microsoft
  • The only monopolies that stand are the ones supported by government laws. All the rest fall on their own as a smart entrepreneur finds a way to leapfrog the lethargic monopoly. Government should stay out of business on both sides of the spectrum -- all it does is adds costs, slows down innovation, and hurts competition. I'll acknowledge that in the short term, a governmet breaking up a monopoly can appear to be a good thing for competition. But I can't think of a case where it wouldn't have happened fine without the government (*maybe* the rail system in the US, because you'd have to get the existing railway approval to go under or over their tracks), and certainly none relating to technology. Or the monopoly only existed because of the government in the first place (think the phone monopoly in the US before it broke up AT&T). It's all the vogue to bash business, but they're simple -- make products and services people want in order to get their money and make a profit. Governments, on the other hand, are inherently corrupt -- promise things people want to get access to power then pass laws and dish out funds to secure that power over time. Same human motivations in all cases -- wealth and power -- but with businesses those human drives result in innovation and better products and services, where in a political or bureacratic role, they result in corruption.
  • So true WebColin. But before the break up of AT&T, another phone conglomerate they broke up was Ma Bell. That one, I was told by my parents, was a real political s**tstorm.
  • @L0gic Bom8, sorry -- name change. I meant Bell when I said AT&T -- AT&T was just the biggest chunk of Bell after the breakup (Bell Labs to Lucent and the the local infrasructure to the newly created Regional Bell's were others). But the only reason Bell/AT&T had a total monopoly over the phone system, was because of government regulations that prohibited competition in the name of protecting "standards".
  • Companies cannot regulate themselves. Even if politicians aren't always the best to do it, we don't have any other form of controlling party. And politicians aren't corrupt in every country... If they are all guilty of one thing ist to promise something they can't always keep.
    In the long run all these cases by the EU will strengthen both the position for the consumer and the companies. The companies with real competition need to stay on edge and be innovative and consumers have more to choose from. Win-win.
    I totally disagree with you in regards to publically owned companies. Main infrastructural components should stay in the hands of the people. I weep a little every time a piece gets sold off with a promise of lower prices and better service for consumers. Because price and service never gets better. Tax money just gets send out of the contry...
  • @Mortenvs
    I completely agree.
  • @Mortenvs, politicians don't have to be corrupt to still do the wrong thing. Government is corrupting. The incentives are all wrong. Individuals tend to look out for their own self-interest first and foremost. This extends to friends and family, but that's about it. I'm not saying people don't care about other things (look at all the money that goes to private charities to know that people do care), just that in general, when a person is making a choice to do A or B, the person will typically chose the path that is better for that person or his or her family. In business, that usually means doing something that will help the business prosper, to get a raise or a promotion, or in the case of senior executives, to increase that profit sharing check or the value of the stock. These natural human drives lead to better products and services, innovation, etc. For that same person, if an elected politician, the incentives are to do what you can to get re-elected. The easiest way to get votes is to give things to people. The problem is that you are giving things paid for with money raised from taxes, which means the incentive is to suck money out of the economy and redistribute it to your constituents. That is corruption. OK, but most people who work for government are not elected.  What about them? Well, their incentive, just like an employee at a business, is to get promoted and have increasing authority and influence. The problem is that in a government job, with no profit incentive, is to always spend all your money so you can ask for more next year. Results are not based on profit or value created, but money spent. Again, that's a corrupting force. On the subject of owning infrastructure, not sure exactly what you mean, but I assume you're referring to common intellectual property like, say, wireless communication tech. This is why patents exist -- they incent smart people to work hard for years to create something new that will be of commercial value to lots of customers, by giving them exclusive use for a few years in exchange for telling the world how to do it (the patent text). This also pulls billions of dollars in venture capital investment each year to fund that research and commercialization. If this were not owned by the inventing company, where it could return a profit to pay for the time spent and repay the early investors who took a gamble, innovation would grind to a halt.
  • In my opinion you have way to high thoughts about companies and their executives and board members.
  • IBM in the 50s
  • I actually don't see giving a discount if you buy other products as an anticompetative action. It's a common practive in every industry. However, if they sold below cost to drive out competition, that should definitely be punsihed.
  • The problem is that big companies can afford to take a 1 billion dollar loss to undercut prices where smaller companies can't. So even if a startup makes a better product, buyers will have a hard time not choosing the cheapest product available, thus the startup makes no money and the bog company has gotten rid of the competition.
  • It boils down to these "upset" companies must have crappy tech, otherwise Qualcomm would have simply purchased them.
  • 1520 til Intel, not gonna buy any thing else
  • I'm even happy enough with my 635 to hold out until Intel. I got it in order to save money aside for the flagship I will someday want. Intel with Continuum is going to be it.  
  • You'll have to if it breaks. Nokia is out of stock on spare parts. That's why they are sending me a 930 :'(
  • Instead of a 1520? F that.
  • Yes, but my carrier did give me 200$ refund. So its sad, but at least I have bit of money towards the 940XL :)
  • @Mortenvs Repair the phone yourself by buying parts online.. I did with my 1520
  • But then I would have to spend money on a phone that's still under warranty.
  • Dude you got a decent deal out of that Imo.
  • I know, but I still am gonna miss my beautiful 1520. Especially Glance Screen :/
  • Although Intel processors are coming with Windows 10 Mobile, I wonder if any other processors would even bother with the next-gen devices. If so, I really hope Tegra comes back to the mobile market. More variety is always better.
    That being said, is Continuum exclusive to Intel? I'm assuming AMD could join in as well? That would be quite awesome.
  • Continuum works perfectly fine on ARM chips, people are just hoping that an intel powered phone with continuum would also allow desktop apps, which it probably won't because there's no desktop in windows mobile 10 at all to begin with. 
  • I don't think it will any time soon. Maybe eventually, but not right now. My take is, even if there is no desktop on Windows 10 Mobile, they can be installed, and when you launch it on the phone it says "Use Continuum (or plug into a desktop monitor) to use this program." Although for people who don't utilize the feature, it would be pointless to installed desktop prpgrams.
  • x86 "API" as everyone calls it requires a lot more than just an x86 processor to run the actual binary code on. So it would be a massive undertaking to have the entire System32 and Windows folders that way to many programs manipulate directly to achieve what they want (not using any APIs at all, and many APIs that aren't available in the universal system). Only the pure x86 machine code would profit from an intel processor and tbh I don't think MS will do all this effort for something that borders on useless.
  • If they just brought the Win32 API to mobile so that programs using it must be wrapped in the Universal container (Project Centennial), then it might work without bringing the whole desktop UI to phones, but that would require devs to make the conversion which would severly limit its usability.
  • Windows/Phone 8, WIndows RT, Windows 8.1   That is your massive undertaking to get "system32" on ARM. Windows 10 runs the SAME NT Kernel source, compiled for each processor architecture.
  • Tegra was killed off because they were to late to the game with reference devices that anybody could buy.
    Amd could retask their arm server efforts for consumer market
  • I think AMD is on the way to make mobiles chip as I read on the net last year and already their technology is up to this. But they have their financial problems which hold them off for now.
  • They've been on the way for "years". Sadely still with virtually no result. I really hope to see AMD rise once again to combat Intel.
  • AMD does not update their drivers, so no AMD for me. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android with my Note 4.
  • Those are AMD (ATI) gpu in those snapdragon
  • To bad they've retasked it for servers(1st ive herd of arm server)
  • You've never been to Red Hat summit then.  They were all the rage in 2013.
  • Can't be bothered to find the post but they made it clear that phones are not in their plans, while tablets are (and have been for some time).
  • As a citizen of the EU I feel sorry for all those who has been/are under investigation by them idiots... EU is money making machine, nothing else. Qualcomm will be forced to settle down antitrust inverstigation with some fat envelope and some jerks in the EU will just laugh. By the way EU needs money to "save" Greece now so this investigation will happen/finish quickly...
  • Markets don't work that way, bailout financing also does not. Signed, another EU citizen. Monopolization needs regulation, and that's GOOD for the consumer.
  • about time.
  • Intel will be the crybaby that is making this happen against Qualcomm, consider what the central banks continue to get away with, and 'the people' want Qualcomm for 'antitrust'? Gimme a break...
  • I guess at least they have Havok middleware
  • Intel is in no position to cry considering the fine they were slapped with a few years ago. 
  • How about they accuse google of antitrust for the nexus tablets sold at a loss of hardware costs alone and for continuing to purposefully sabotage any google related website experience on a windows environment.