Major DSP makers, accustomed to yearly success, found themselves caught in the vortex of last year's crashing communications market, resulting in severely reduced revenues and the first negative growth in DSP history.
Communications applications accounted for two-thirds of all programmable-DSP sales in 2001, and the downturn of both cellular handsets and wireline applications resulted in a total DSP revenue drop of about 30%, according to a new report from Forward Concepts Co., Tempe, Ariz.
The four DSP leaders-Texas Instruments, Agere, Motorola, and Analog Devices-all lost market share in 2001, as a host of smaller suppliers more than doubled theirs, compared with 2000. But the increased share appears to be the result primarily of changes in World Semiconductor Trade Statistics classification guidelines, said Will Strauss, an analyst at Forward Concepts.
In 2001, wireless applications accounted for 55% of all DSP revenue; computers and peripherals, 12%; wireline, 11%; consumer, 7%; automotive, 2.4%; and multipurpose and other, 12.5%. DSP revenue dropped from $6.14 billion in 2000 to $4.26 billion last year, but Strauss said improvement in the wireless market should nudge DSP revenue to $4.9 billion this year, before returning to more traditional growth rates in 2003, at $6.5 billion.
"There will be a significant jump in 2003 because we'll actually be seeing the new 2.5G and 3G phones in volume with color screens, GPS, Bluetooth, 802.11, and other features," Strauss said. "People are going to start shucking their present phones for these all-singing and all-dancing models.
The wireline sector is unlikely to see improvement until the second half of this year, "and right now it's looking closer to the fourth quarter than the third," he said.
DSP suppliers other than the "big four" saw their market share more than double last year because they began reporting as DSP sales what had previously been reported as microcontroller sales, Strauss said.
"We've long known there are many companies that employ DSP technology," he said. "More than 80 semiconductor companies use DSP technology in their products, but they've been hesitant to call them DSP chips. Either they felt it was only a small part of the total product, or they didn't want to look like they were competing against TI."??