Qualcomm changes exec's duties in enterprise push

Qualcomm's Anand Chandrasekher retains the title of chief marketing officer but will now focus on enterprises

Qualcomm has changed the job profile of Chief Marketing Officer, Anand Chandrasekher, to focus on the emerging area of enterprises, which analysts said points to the company likely developing ARM server chips.

Chandrasekher, who previously oversaw global marketing at Qualcomm, is "moving to a new role leading our exploration of certain enterprise related initiatives," a Qualcomm spokeswoman wrote in a brief email.

"With Anand's experience in running enterprise businesses, he is well suited for this new role," the spokeswoman wrote. Chandrasekher will retain his title and continue to report to Steve Mollenkopf, chief operating officer and president of Qualcomm.

The job change comes in the wake of Chandrasekher's controversial comments in which he referred to Apple's A7 chip as a "marketing gimmick" in an interview with the IDG News Service on Oct. 1. A week later, Qualcomm issued a statement saying Chandrasekher's comments were inaccurate, and that 64-bit was important for computing on mobile devices and other form factors.

Chandrasekher's name has been removed from the company's leadership Web page. Qualcomm did not provide further comment on his new duties.

"Most likely they are trying to find the right fit for him," said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. "His background is more in startup initiatives."

An enterprise focus means that Qualcomm could be looking at developing a chip based around ARM processor designs, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

"You can do a 32-bit ARM server, but when you have a 64-bit part it is considered [commercially] viable," McCarron said. "It's a high-margin, high-profit segment, but you do have to make an investment in designs."

Qualcomm's chip focus is largely centered on mobile devices, and the company is developing a 64-bit chip based on the ARM architecture. Qualcomm has said it is constantly looking at opportunities in other markets but hasn't said if it is developing a server chip.

ARM processors are used in most smartphones and tablets, and are viewed as a low-power alternative to widely used x86 chips. Some believe that ARM servers could help cut electric bills by being more power-efficient at processing Web applications. Companies including Advanced Micro Devices, Calxeda and AppliedMicro are expected to release 64-bit server chips based on ARM's ARMv8 architecture starting next year.

Qualcomm is a consumer brand, and putting a high-level guy in to chase the enterprise market sends a strong message about the company's intentions to chase the enterprise market, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.

Chandrasekher, a former Intel employee, has a strong enterprise computing background, Brookwood said.

At Intel, Chandrasekher was responsible for pushing the highly successful Centrino chip platform, which was initially for the enterprise market and then trickled into consumer laptops.

Some analysts said that the comments could not have pleased Qualcomm, though there's no smoking gun that was responsible for a change in duties. Analysts also said that Qualcomm may have hired Chandrasekher in 2012 to ultimately take on an enterprise role, so it's also possible that the change strangely coincided with the timing of his comments.

"I'm sure they weren't pleased with his comments," said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates. "He said it poorly. He knows better than that."

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

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