From domestic lighting control to wireless charging, CEO Jalal Bagherli sees nothing but opportunity for Dialog Semiconductor, one of Europe's leading fabless chip companies.
iWatt's power capabilities will help Dialog address the "quick-charging" market, which requires that outboard chargers communicate with the onboard PMIC to determine the type of battery, how much charge it has, and the fastest safe rate of charging. It is a relatively simple conversation between the power converters. However, depending on the equipment types, it can reduce charging time by 50 percent or two-thirds, and that will be valued by equipment providers and customers, Bagherli said.
And it is the right time to be engaging.
Standards are not yet in place. Companies like Qualcomm have their own standards for inside the phone. Apple will probably do their own corporate version, but this tends to leave third-party vendors struggling to support multiple versions. Being on both ends of the wire definitely helps.
Interestingly, Bagherli is more cautious about wireless charging, which is starting to get quite a lot of discussion. "It's a market that's coming, but it is still fragmented. We have to wait." Dialog has had a couple of R&D engagements in the US and Japan, but it could not really see a place for a sale inside mobile equipment. "It turns out that receiving the energy is pretty straightforward. The charging mat is the more significant engineering challenge, but iWatt makes that a proposition for us."
In lighting, he is eager to add Dialog's short-range wireless capabilities to iWatt's LED drivers. Dialog makes low-energy DECT and Bluetooth transceivers. Bagherli said wireless control of lighting will become significant because of the increased functionality it offers and the simplification of installation it allows.
It is still a nascent market, so we do not need to back one standard over another. It is still a fragmented market with pockets of automation and differences between professional and domestic installations. The most important thing is to listen to the customers.
The idea of listening to customers and not getting too far ahead of the market could be taken as a motto for Bagherli's approach to business across the breadth of Dialog.
Another thing iWatt brings is a customer base to which Dialog can now try and cross-sell its motherboard components. "Nokia, HTC, Motorola, Samsung -- we didn't have any business with them prior to the acquisition." Bagherli welcomes the fact that Nokia's mobile device business is becoming part of Microsoft. (See: Microsoft to Buy Nokia Handset Business.) Microsoft will support the Windows Phone operating system for at least a few years, and that provides an additional sales opportunity.