The competitive landscape of the handset core IC market has shifted dramatically over the past five years (though Qualcomm is still on top).
Last year, Intel Corp. jumped into the top 10 handset IC vendors to place fourth, according to the IHS report. Intel’s push into the top 10 was made possible by the leading chip vendor’s 2011 acquisition of Infineon’s wireless IC business, IHS noted. Intel is starting to see some signs of life with the Atom processor and its inclusion in handsets from Motorola along with other OEMs, IHS said.
Two other vendors also broke into top 10 in 2012—Spreadtrum Communications Inc. (No. 9) and Broadcom Corp. (No. 10). Spreadtrum expanded its digital baseband IC revenue by more than 370 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to IHS.
In ninth place, Spreadtrum expanded its digital baseband IC revenue by more than 370 percent within the five-year period. Broadcom likewise expanded revenue by a similar dizzying magnitude to land at No. 10—thanks to baseband IC revenue finally gaining traction by ramping design wins since 2011 at Samsung.
Meanwhile, Texas Instruments Inc. slipped from No. 2 in the market in 2007 to No. 6 last year, IHS said. TI’s market share fell from 20 percent to 4 percent during the period as it began phasing out its baseband IC products. TI’s OMAP applications processor did not find success in the smartphone market as quickly as expected IHS said. TI announced last year it would focus OMAP on the embedded space.
IHS predicts that the structure of the mobile handset core IC market will continue to shift, particularly as LTE becomes more widespread.
Baseband chips, already accounting for more than half the revenue of the total handset core IC space, will maintain their pre-eminence in determining the market-share gains and losses of industry vendors moving forward, IHS said. But the future will also be driven by the ability of any given IC supplier to provide platform solutions that optimize the system-level design of all of the ICs, making up the handset’s core chip architecture, the firm predicted.