Well it turns out that QCOM is not only a competitor but is a big customer of SWKS. They use SWKS components in a number of their chip systems. (Yes, it’s a complicated world).
In the overall big picture. this kind of relationship is not uncommon and not surprising at all.
The big boys play the role and game of the patron saint of multilaterism, Klemens von Metternich, the famous Austrian statesman of the 19th century) - can’t we all get along, that is, as long as you provide something beneficial for me.
Here’s a classic example. While OEMs Apple and Samsung are engaged in a fierce battle to dominate the smartphone marketplace, Apple is not only a competitor, but a big customer of Samsung:
• Samsung made and supplied the A5, A6 and A7 processor chips for Apple’s iPhones.
• Perhaps due to legal disputes and patent lawsuits dating back to 2011 that soured the business relationship, Apple ended Samsung’s monopoly making iPhone and iPad chips by picking Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to produce A8 processors for the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices. TSMC, the world’s biggest contract manufacturer of chips, happens to be Samsung’s biggest rival in chip manufacturing.
o Is Samsung out of the picture for the next A9 processor? Nope! The latest word (unconfirmed by Apple) is that Samsung has regained Apple as a customer and will make the main A9 chip in the next iPhone model. Why? The cost savings benefit for Apple by using one supplier - in this case Samsung with the backup of partner Globalfoundries - in designing the chip to fit that chipmaker’s specific manufacturing technique and not having to replicate that work elsewhere - a time consuming and costly step.
o Is TSMC going away? Nope. Now that they had a taste of Apple’s lucrative supply chain, TSMC budgeted a record $12 billion for plants and equipment.
o So Apple can now pit two rivals (Samsung and TSMC) against each other and achieve savings for its bottom line cost.
This is a highly dynamic, fiercely competitive landscape.
Regarding the RF arena, QCOM is “getting along” with current RF suppliers - SWKS, QRVO, AVGO and others - in the interim, while it continues to develop its disruptive RF technology.