Qualcomm vs. Startups in the Battle for Health Care Dollars

Will major tech players such as Qualcomm  (NASDAQ: QCOM  ) be able to push into the health-care sector in one fell swoop, or will a swarm of start-ups, each tackling its own tiny piece of the puzzle, prove more successful?

That's the fascinating question raised by Pristine co-founder Kyle Samani. Pristine is a small start-up based in Austin, TX, that has developed two apps so far for Google Glass that take advantage of the power of hands-free communication in medical settings.

The Fool's Max Macaluso and Rex Moore caught up with Kyle Samani at the recent mHealth Summit near Washington, D.C. In this video, Kyle explains how Qualcomm is competing in the mobile health space in a different manner than most.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Max Macaluso: One last question. There are a lot of big companies here; we have Qualcomm, Intel, I think Johnson & Johnson also has a booth. Is there a company that most people think of as old-school that's doing some new, exciting things in technology that you really applaud?

Kyle Samani: Qualcomm is probably the closest that I would guess. You look at Qualcomm and they've generated ... I think they have a market cap right now of $150 billion or something. They're larger than Intel now, by sheer valuation, and the vast majority of their revenue is based on designing and selling chips that go into your smartphone.

In terms of health care delivery, that's pretty unrelated. Qualcomm is looking at this and saying, "We want to move up the stack into health care," so I think in that sense they're kind of the big company that's really making a big push.

They're making a push on a lot of fronts. They call it Qualcomm Life, which is definitely very un-health-like. It's like, "Get all these devices and connect them together and get data to your provider and then do the analytics." They're taking a very holistic approach to this.

If you look at the number of start-ups, there are literally hundreds of start-ups, if not thousands, trying to solve very small sub-segments of that problem, so it'll be interesting to see how successful they really are in that very vertical model. They obviously have the cash to try it, and make it work. If they can execute is a totally different story.

Traditionally, when these kinds of things happen, it tends to be led by a mish-mash of start-ups, where you have different start-ups who excel at each layer of the pie and as long as they're relatively modular, then you'll end up seen a more modular, granular success, as opposed to a big, vertical, top-down version.

Macaluso: Kyle, thank you so much for your time.


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10/24/2014 3:59 PM
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