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President Trump may have saved Microsoft's mobile future (seriously)

U.S. President Trump cited national security as the reason for blocking the Broadcom-Qualcomm merger. Before addressing the implications of this unprecedented executive order, let's recap.

Last year Broadcom made an unsolicited bid to purchase Qualcomm for $130B. Qualcomm rejected that and a subsequent offer. Broadcom responded by moving to replace Qualcomm's board with individuals sympathetic to its agenda.

Trump's intervention stopped a potentially disastrous move against Microsoft's and Qualcomm's Always Connected PC strategy, its rumored Andromeda device category and any Qualcomm-led future cellular innovation.

Why Microsoft should oppose a Broadcom-Qualcomm merger

What was at stake?

Broadcom's CEO Hok Tan is notorious for buying companies then cutting parts that don't yield immediate profits. This produces short-term value for stockholders, and pays acquisition debts but stifles innovation. This strategy directly contrasts Qualcomm's, which focuses on long-term investments that don't yield results until five to 10 years down the road.

Qualcomm's current mobile dominance is a result of investments in mobile processors and evolving cellular connectivity over the years. The company's now investing in bringing full PC power to the cellular roadmap (potentially including Microsoft's rumored Andromeda device category) and, via 5G, a host of other devices including smart cars and IoT devices.

Trump blocking the Broadcom-Qualcomm merger benefits Microsoft by protecting Qualcomm's long-term investments in cellular PCs. And it preserves cellular innovation by blocking Broadcom's potential shuttering of Qualcomm's 5G investments, which were at the core of Trump's decision.

How eSIM and 5G edge computing can help Microsoft's 'Andromeda' succeed

Why Trump blocked Qualcomm's acquisition

Ironically Trump welcomed Broadcom back to the U.S.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. advised Trump that a Broadcom-Qualcomm merger could hinder U.S. investments in wireless and chip technologies. China, which is investing billions in next-gen wireless tech, could then surpass U.S. investments.

The tech industry and various governments see 5G's promise of connecting billions of devices to high-speed, low-latency cellular networks as an opportunity for both technological leadership and as potential security threats if that leadership falls into the wrong hands.

Currently U.S.-based Qualcomm's in a race against China-based Huawei for 5G dominance. Huawei, a leader in cloud computing, smartphones, and cybersecurity, has invested billions in 5G development, filed several domestic and international 5G patents and has important partners. Huawei's goal is the commercialization of full-scale 5G networks by 2020.

Trump's stopping the Broadcom-Qualcomm acquisition ensures Qualcomm's ability to compete in the free market without the threat of its Always Connected PC, chip and 5G investments being nixed by a short-term focused, profit-hungry Broadcom.

How Qualcomm and Microsoft are making PCs post-smartphone devices

The saga continues…

In the wake of these proceedings Qualcomm's former CEO, Paul Jacobs, expressed plans to buy the $89.7 billion company. He claims this "would bolster a critical contributor to American technology."

Would this purchase support or subvert the order of one of America's most controversial presidents? Time will tell. For now, Trump's decision may have made him a momentary hero in the eyes of a tech industry with whom he has been at odds since he ascended to the highest seat in the land.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

98 Comments
  • This was a great article! Thanks Jason!
  • Thanks Sully. Glad yo liked it!
  • Trump making a good decision, I must be dreaming, pinch me someone.
  • Lol. Here's something my Pastor says, there's bad in the best of us and good in the worst of us. I'm definitely not a fan of Trump, but this decision I believe, was a great one.:-)
  • Many of the nations involved in the TPP trade deal were also happy that he pulled out of that.  We no longer have to adopt US-style copyright laws!!! Thanks, Chump!!!!
  • He must be an Arminian 😉
  • There is not "bad" all and everything is good. What we think of as "bad" only gives us a chance to show how good can win over evil, it can make us stronger as the weak shall fail and love, true love for all life and the good that we all seek shall be found.
  • 🙄
  • You know what they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Guess he was bound to do something positive by mistake sooner or later.
  • Lol
  • Read up on Trump's accomplishments over the last year.
  • His REAL accomplishments or the many he takes credit for?
  • LoL, I like that screen name. :-D
  • Don't need to punch. It has to go through the house first. Once all Republicans nod their heads, it goes on the table amongst other things to sign
  • It's funnier than that. Turns out Trump's smarts have been more of a boon to MS's 'mobile future' than Ol' Nads' have. By a very long way. I mean, how embarrassing must that be? Yet more public shame for Ol' Nads. I wonder how much more of this he'll take before stepping down?
  • Ignorance as fact is still ignorance. Microsoft as a business has done exceptionally well under Nadella and is the 4th most valuable company in the world. 717 Billion with a B market value.
  • What the ***** is Ol' Nads? Anything like go nads?
  • "Nads" as in short for Nadella. Or short for gonads at the same time.
  • With a stock price that's basically tripled in the past 5 years? I think he'll stick around a bit longer.
  • Love this asinine argument about stock price.  Look at the revenue streams. Its ALL CLOUD driven.  It would have been there ANYWAY.  He has done nothing new to add more lines of revenue. NOTHING ground breaking. He is riding the coattails of his predecessor.  
  • Cloud revenue is a direct result of a lot of hard work to make Azure competitive with AWS. It definitely wouldnt have "been there anyway". They have also aligned all of their other products (sometimes to my irritation) to seamlessly integrate with Azure - from Office to ActiveDirectory to SQL Server, and soon Windows Server itself. That stuff has all contributed to more customers chosing Azure and MS cloud and it didnt happen without a lot of hard work. Azure wasnt that great in the early days. They have managed to make it competitive.  
  • all predecessor. Nothing he did.
  • Basically a miserable failure Nutella will always be remembered as.
  • Thanks, Jason. Great summary. It's been hard to find an objective description of some of these events without the political coverage completely taking over and coloring the reporting.
  • Your welcome and thank you. :-)
  • You're.
  • Qualcomm's current mobile dominance is actually based on an extensive patent portfolio and litigation. There's a reason Samsung won't put it's own chips in cell phones sold in the US & why the Exynos is usually only found in foreign Samsung phones (as opposed to other oem phones as well). Qualcomm owns standards essential patents, no one can build a modern cell phone without them. TL;DR, Qualcomm=monopoly
  • Better than Broadcom that 👉 "Broadcom's CEO Hok Tan is notorious for buying companies then cutting parts that don't yield immediate profits. This produces short-term value for stockholders, and pays acquisition debts but stifles innovation. This strategy directly contrasts Qualcomm's, which focuses on long-term investments that don't yield results until five to 10 years down the road."
  • Good thread, glad to see more folks starting to own & overcome their absurd political derangement syndrome. Pressuring ATT/VZW to halt Hauwei distribution was also necessary & smart long term. Finally!!!
  • It's frankly the insane media establishment to blame for the political derangement sysndrome. If you dont follow politics much, the medias 24/7 propaganda hit pieces and selective reporting makes people believe what they say. 
  • Please stop and stick to the subject.
    You're veering outside of it and you're sounding ridiculous.
  • So you're saying that media outlets are not spewing propaganda left or right?
  • No, the mainstream media only tells lies.
  • Pity our government did not see sense and blocked a lot of take over from American companies and chinese companies for that matter.  
  • This was a very very good decision...
  • Nothing is going to save MS from itself. I can see them putting out a couple of devices, then abandoning the platform.
  • A stopped (analog) clock is right twice a day.
  • I'm sure if Microsoft made one it would struggle with twice. It'd probably get retrenched before it got that far.
  • How about all of you complaining about MS create your own multi-billion dollar software company and go head-to-head with Apple and Google and see how far you get. I say they made a far run at it and actually created a better OS. Just couldn't get a fair shake from enough carriers and hardware partners to make a deep impact.
  • Or they royally effed up the whole thing & wasted a few tens of billions in the process.
  • Or they didn't. Either it doesn't matter, the past can't be changed. Got to figure out how to succeed going forward.
  • So their mobile strategy was successful and they didn't waste all that time and money? Of course the past matters, that's how time works. If the mobile division were a stand alone company it would've been one of the most spectacular flameout failures in the history of business. Not too many companies can blow through $10-$20 billion, put a few thousand people out of work and still keep bumbling forward, oblivious.
  • Yes jkelly, because Google got in tight with the people in power.
  • I'm with the "stopped clock" analogy on this one too.   Which statement is NOT true:
     a. My political team is always good and right
     b. Your political team is always evil and wrong
     c. My political team can make government run effective, efficiently, and without corruption.
     d. All of the above.   Answer: D -- A, B, and C are all false   Obama's Pen & Phone, Trump's... who know what; they are just tiny steps for each side to demand a "Strong Man" that can "get things done" in spite of "do nothing" congress.  Good news, we're still at the end of the "central planners can make life better for everyone" stage, so we have time. 
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QD75lUm51s "government is best which governs least"
     -- Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"
  • Read up on Trump's accomplishments, you might be suffering from the propaganda from the media.
  • Wow! Thank god... Everyone says windows mobile is dead. Think it's gonna make a come back?😊
  • I still dislike the President as a person, and everything he stands for (outside of the Presidency) 
  • I dislike Trump too, but he was elected and that what democracy is all about. Two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner 😋
  • Why? You should read up on his acomplishments over the last year.
  • It's wasn't that he made a good decision, it's just that broadcom forgot to pay the bribe.
  • "Damned if you do damned if you don't", fits nicely here.  And no, I'm not a Trump fan.
  • You mean Hillary Clinton wasn't elected and they couldn't pay a bribe because Trump already has more money than all other presidents combined. Or you think that the $145 billion dollars paid to the Clinton Foundation by Russians was just to help them do the good work of using 10% of the money collected for helping people.
  • $145 billion!
  • Aparently not enough to pay off Stormy Daniels!  But relax, it was just a joke.
  • Yup he bangs porn stars, marries super models, and makes America great again. Pure alpha male right there, not to mention also a very stable genius!
  • I don't see how Russians had that much money to pay Hillary to lose. It was the deep rooted problems in the US society that caused Hillary to lose over a baboon with zero political experience, dangerous far right tendencies, racism, bigotry and many other issues. How come voters were quick to not vote for her but nothing was said when Drumpf payed millions to settle his University lawsuit just shortly before the election? And afterwards the pushed thru pipeline construction in Dakota that spilled oil after just a few months? The Russian election interference just needed to exacerbate the racism, bigotry and double standards that already existed there
  • As long as Nadella is running Microsoft no consumer oriented product has a chance in Microsoft.
  • Pretty much. I had high hopes for him when he first took the mantle of CEO but slowly its apparent that he's completely retrenching from consumer oriented products. Even with Xbox they are trying to go beyond the xbox and be the back-end service provider for game devs. In other words, screw Nadella. MS needs a real visionary CEO asap.
  • “Broadcom's CEO Hok Tan is notorious for buying companies then cutting parts that don't yield immediate profits. This produces short-term value for stockholders, and pays acquisition debts but stifles innovation.” That sounds very much like Satya Nadella.
  • Broadcom and Avago are basically American companies. But along the way, Avago, formerly part of Aligent, formally part of HP ended up moving to Singapore. For a good part of 20 years, Wallstreet has tried to arbitrage the high US corporate tax rates against low foriegn tax rates. As a result, many US companies ended up headquarter overseas. A Belgium company, InBev, bought Anheuser Bush because it was clear in doing so, InBev would save over 20% of the net operating porfits do to a more favorable tax policy in Belgium. Trump is telling the world, especially Wall Street to back off. The capital markets can no longer finance these foriegn acquisitions easily and you won't get a tax benefit. Plus you won't get a kind reception in the US. If Broadcom was a US-based company, there would be no government intervention other than the antitrust group in the DOJ. This has nothing to do with MSFT. Everyone knows Qualcomm is going to be a major competitor in 5G (although an always-connected PC may be a niche market for Qualcomm worthy of divestment). But Intel is investing heavily in 5G.
  • According to the recent Freakonomics podcast and Nadella's own mouth, the plan from the moment he took over as CEO was to get rid of Nokia and have their cloud services available to iOS and Android.  Ballmer wanted to buy Nokia to compete with Apple and the board won't let him so he offered to quit. The board gave in and he still quit. Microsoft is a short term company now and Nadella does what the board wants.   The stock price refects that of a large comany that is shutting down all of their money losing divisions.  Microsoft only had a grand vision under Gates and a lesser degree Ballmer.  Apple doesn't use Qualcomm SOC and Android runs perfectly fine on other chips.  I don't see a relationship between Qualcomm and Microsoft at all.  Besides, I have broadcom NIC in my windows server and it works fine. If Microsoft has the money, Broadcom will sell them what ever they need even after they buy Qualcomm.
  • Yeah I listen to that same interview and that's not what he said at all. First he set the record straight about Nokia saying he never voted again aquiring them. Balmer simply asked his opinion and he gave his reason why not. Second he made great points on the need to internally reorganize the company to make it operate more efficiently. And also he pointed towards the need for devices that stand out. After that interview I'm back in the Nadella camp. 
  • I have to admit that Nadella grew Azure amazingly well. However it looks like they are putting all their eggs into one basket now. Gates would go after every trend. Halo lens was Nadella stand out device he described in the interview, but I think that was started by Ballmer. Where is Nadella's vision for the future?
  • You don't see the connection between Qualcomm and Microsoft, Jason? Windows on ARM is a collaboration between Qualcomm and Microsoft using Snapdragon 835 chips. Cellular PCs, Always Connected PCs, are a Qualcomm/Microsoft collaboration. Check out some of the stories I've linked in the piece.
  • We already have always connected PC.  It is called Surface Pro LTE.  However, if you are talking about a Windows device running on an ARM SOC, then you are talking about Qualcomm.  Again, I don't think the significance of this decision materially impacts MSFT plans or would change the overall adoption of technology by the market.    The only reason this story became an issue is because Broadcom did a corporate inversion to avoid high US Corp tax rates.
  • Yes, Always Connected PCs with 'smartphone attributes' such as instant on, better battery life and always connected on Qualcomm's Snapdragon ARM processors (and potential Andromeda category devices) are what we're talking about here. Microsoft's plans with Always Connected PCs are in sync with Qualcomm innovation. Qualcomm diligently works with partners such as Microsoft on upcoming processors three years before they are introduced. Meaning the Snapdragon 845 presented at Qualcomm's event last year was collaboratively developed with Qualcomm working with partners on how they would use the chip in upcoming tech going back to 2014/2015. This is the nature of Qualcomm's long-term business model and innovation strategy for providing partners and the industry with tools to meet thier mutual goals. We're at the beginning of full Windows on ARM, and to see the full and efficiently applied power of the PC on diverse mobile form factors as Always Connected PCs and Project Andromeda (and Core OS) will set a standard for, to be emulated by OEM partners over the coming years, this continued investment in collaborative development with long-term goals in view will have to continue between Qualcomm and its partners like Microsoft. A Broadcom acquisition would have likely seen a destruction of that model and the derivative effect would have been negative for Microsoft's mobile future with Windows on ARM going forward. Also, Qualcomm's 5G investments are important to Microsoft's edge computing strategy, where high speed low-latency networks will support its IoT, AI and of course mobile computing visions. Again, a Broadcom-Qualcomm merger could have negatively effected Qualcomm's 5G investments and thus, Microsoft's parallel plans.
  • Qualcomm and Microsoft were great back in the day. My 930 on 8.1 still has better battery life than my Pixel 2. I don't think Microsoft is holding up their end though. If Microsoft is going to back in they should support all common Android designs. That way a manufacturer can create a Windows version after they finished their Android product. But Nadella made it clear that software support on other people OS is Microsoft traditional way and the way he is going. I believe he was referring to MBasic days of Apple 2e, Commodore 64, Z80 etc during the podcast, but he did mention Office was a Mac product first as well. Trump's mind is in the golden era of industrialization in during 1950s and Nadella is in the golden age of micro computing during the 1980s. You could say they both make a pair that way.
  • Maybe Microsoft shouldn't be single threaded through Qualcomm for WoA if it is so important. There are other ARM processor manufacturers. The only thing Trump saved them from, is their own lack of forethought.
  • In the US Qualcomm has patents on pretty much everything concerning cell connectivity. Theyre considered essential statndards patents, so Qualcomm is required to license them at fair use rates, but in reality I imagine they'd make it more than a little difficult & expensive to have someone else take this whole WoA pc idea to market. Trump is basically preserving the monopoly, or at the very least preventing from being acquired by the Chinese.
  • That issue isn't unique to Microsoft. They would be in the same boat with everyone else.
  • My thoughts exactly. What about Exynos and Kirin?
  • So Hok Tan is Nadella and Qualcomm is what Microsoft was before Nadella.
  • It's hard to take seriously the words Microsoft and mobile future in the same sentence.
  • This was the action of an "America First" President. I seriously doubt Obama would have stopped this. Or Clinton if - God forbid - she had won the election. Who knows how much cash Chinese businesses and politicians poured into the Clinton Slush Fund, AKA the Clinton Foundation.
  • You're absolutely right. I doubt that Obama would have done that too.  Here's more proof of that. https://www.thestreet.com/story/13538758/1/big-government-steps-up-challenges-to-big-business-in-merger-wars.html  
  • If Crooked had succeeded in rigging the election, by now you'd either be dead or living in a nuclear winter.
  • You still back the traitor? Isn't it obvious he is a Russian agent? What US president has been so kind to a Russian dictator? What US president has had multiple cases of meetings with Russian agents and lied about them? It is very risky at this point. Their is a ton of evidence more and you continue to support a someone who is very possibly a traitor to the US. That is a big risk to take at this point. At this point, how will you not be a traitor if it actually is proven?
  • A bad man, can do good things, yes: Hitler created highways and VW, Napoleon gave people last names (and revolutionized government administration across Europe), Nixon started the EPA and Trump saved Microsofts mobile strategy. But a bad man will still be a bad man!
  • Thank God that Trump is such a great man then! Think of the alternative... World War 3 with Russia under Crooked Hilliary.
  • Napolean gave people last names?
  • Yes, before Napoleon, people here in the Netherlands, didn't have last names, not manditory at least. Just a first name, and sometimes reference like Molenaars dochter/zoon (miller's son/daughter) for example. After his conquest Napoleon instituted last names and when he did a lot of people thought it wouldn't last. That's where funny or strange last names originate, their ancestors did took the choosing of a last name seriously. Sadly for them the practice stuck ;)
  • It was part of the Code Napoleon,
    you should Google it.
  • "President Trump may have saved Microsoft's mobile future". Well, maybe. But more likely, it is one less excuse folks here can use when "Microsoft mobile" continues to be irrelevant/nonexistent.
  • "I seriously doubt Obama would have stopped this." I left you some facts.  What you didn't care to respond about your ascertain?  I know, I know.  The FACTS didn't mesh with the point you were trying to make so you ignored it.  Facts, what an evil word.  :)
  • President Trump is the best President the US has ever had.
  • It's ok. Nutella already put that knive nice n deep and twisted it for good measure. 
  • He saved nothing for MS because MS has no future in mobile..their incompetence and stupidity is beyond measure.
  • I didn't vote for him, but I'm liking him more and more each day. Thank you Mr. President.
  • Wow Trump is becoming quite the dictator these days. Blocking this takeover just to stop Huawei becoming so dominant in the US. Next he'll be blocking all sales of Huawei phone's in the US too.... Oh wait!
  • I don't really care about the impact to MS in this (well, I care, but I don't think that should be part of the decision making), but I do think this is one of a few good decisions Trump has made.
  • Folks I hope that the Windows 10 on ARMs CPU's software improves. So far some reviews are bad. Strange as it seems Windows 10 mobile is a better MS OS right now for ARM CPU's. If the coming folding 2 screen Andromeda device comes to the market running Windows 10 on ARM in it's present form the device may get _BAD_ reviews. The Surface Team I hope should make another Andromeda device that uses the Intel Core M CPU. why? 1=It's a Fan lees CPU. 2=It runs full Windows 10.
    3=It will run MS office and an huge amount of Desktop PC programs that do not require a more powerful CPU. The Core M CPU does not give as good battery life as an ARM CPU but it's an X86 Win32 type CPU that runs the huge catalog of Windows software. at least 1 Andrmeda device should run an Intel Core M CPU.
  • I am for what President Trump did however The Windows 10 on ARM software had better improve very quickly.or else Microsoft's Mobile strategy is going to be limitted to intel CPU's  IT has got bad reviews. Hmm Microsoft may have to retreat to using Intel Core M  CPU's in future Microsoft  and Surface devices. I am sure Microsoft doe not want to go through another Windows RT failure in fact Microsoft should make a intel Core M CPU folding 2 screen Andromeda device because it will run Full Windows 10 and most Windows software like MS office very well.. Windows 10 on ARM does not do this
  • Good news, thanks !
  • "President Trump may have saved Microsoft's mobile future (seriously)"
    But, the real question is if Trump could save the World!
  • Most likely destroy it. If he doesn't start a nuclear war during his term/s it will be boring short of a miracle
  • "Broadcom's CEO Hok Tan is notorious for buying companies then cutting parts that don't yield immediate profits. This produces short-term value for stockholders, and pays acquisition debts but stifles innovation." Microsoft already have same type of CEO. I hope that Trump can help with that too. Or Microsoft going to destroy himself.
  • Not really, Satya Nadella is more beholden to stockholders than Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. In addition all the double speak really highlights a problem - petty office politics. When combined with reduction in workforce which equates to higher workloads. You end up with a situation where there is no concrete pathway. Due to low moral and high workloads you will always have instability as people seek to create efficient systems and policies beliving their methods would yield better results with current resources available. As result nothing is unified, you end up with obvious flaws shipping in public builds (the fall creators update rebooting issues), testing of a critical juncture (Microsoft teams PWA outside of the company) - which in turns reduces morals across the company. As it highlights mistrust and secrecy. All of this stems from incompetency, lack of planning and foresight and poor leadership by those seeking for shortcuts for quick profits / stock market gain. This is the inflection point, Microsoft must re-engage the consumer space. Vastly different than someone who just buys up companies and sell parts that are not making immediate profits. I would say Satya Nadella, is more risk averse I understand why but that risk aversion as with anything is a double edged sword. Risk aversion can be seen as extreme cautiousness or lack of confidence depending on ones actions. Unfortunately given how many features and products are confined to the US suchas Cortana and her abilities, Microsoft pay etc. I would say it's the latter, as both are crucial for the mobile space but notably absent in almost every country compared to the competition. Ultimately the fate of a company falls on the CEO regardless of person.
  • Well, well given how haphazard this current whitehouse administration is... I wouldn't celebrate just yet.