H&Q Notebook: Qualcomm Moves From Cell Phones to Chips

Plus, Conexant draws a crowd and Rambus travels right on time.
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SAN FRANCISCO --

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

a semiconductor maker? That's how its president, Richard Sulpizio, characterized the company, which most people know as a cell-phone maker, during a presentation at the

Hambrecht & Quist Annual Technology Conference

. "We are a chip company," he said, insisting that chips will take a more important role in the company's strategic development going forward.

The company currently accounts for about 90% of the market for application-specific chips for CDMA phones, and while Sulpizio said he thinks competition will drive that percentage down, he believes Qualcomm can maintain a 65% market share.

Sulpizio intends to take the chips beyond cell phones. So Qualcomm is cozying up to computer companies to convince them that its chips are perfect for their products. "There is absolutely no reason why a CDMA chip can't go in a laptop," he said.

Conexant Connects

Six months ago, money managers would likely yawn at the mere mention of

Rockwell

(ROK) - Get Report

. But now the subsidiary it spun off,

Conexant

(CNXT) - Get Report

, draws a ballroom full of fund managers to its financial presentation at the H&Q conference.

Conexant is what many money managers have been looking for: It's the biggest player in the hot market for communication chips -- we're talking set-top boxes, cable modems and cell phones.

"We are the world's biggest producer of

digital subscriber line chips in the semiconductor market," said CEO Dwight Decker. Conexant's chips, he said, will enable a million digital subscriber lines in fiscal 1999.

Rambus on Schedule, CEO Says

Rambus

-based

(RMBS) - Get Report

memory chips and chipsets are on schedule, according to Rambus CEO Geoff Tate. "We are well into the tornado," he said.

Rambus has come

under fire recently amid rumors that its main advocate,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, would come out with a next-generation memory chipset for non-Rambus standards.