Speaking today with CNET, a Qualcomm spokesperson reported that the company behind the Snapdragon processor took a big hit as it laid off about 600 of its employees. Half of those employees are based in California in the company's San Diego headquarters and other offices. The reason for the layoffs are vague, with the spokesperson citing that the move is "focused on specific projects and programs and reflects current business priorities." However, it's hard to ignore that the company has had its fair share of scrutiny in the past few months.
Nvidia sued Qualcomm and Samsung in September for infringing on seven graphics patents, most notably Nvidia's Kepler GPU IP. In August, the European Union joined China in investigating the company for violating anti-trust laws. The complaint came from Icera, an Nvidia-owned modem company, that said Qualcomm used patented-related incentives and exclusionary prices for its customers in order to prevent business with Icera. The Federal Trade Commission also began an investigation of the company in November.
It's unclear whether or not the layoffs also affected production of the new Snapdragon 810. Two days ago, we found Korean sources that reported the Snapdragon 810 might be facing technical problems, which could delay smartphone releases next year. However, Qualcomm denied the rumors and stated that development is still on track for release in H1 2015.
All of this comes days before the one-year anniversary of Steve Mollenkopf becoming Qualcomm's CEO. His predecessor, Paul Jacobs, is the company's executive chairman. With investigations, layoffs, and delay rumors piling up against Qualcomm, Mollenkopf might already be trying to change the company's image to make his second year of leadership less troublesome for the mobile processor giant.