Texas Instruments Inc. has grown accustomed to sitting atop the analog IC and DSP pecking order. But now the company's No. 1 analog status is endangered, due principally to its overexposure to the electronics industry's communications sector, which fell into a well in 2001.
As TI examines its analog business, it continues to make management changes, announcing earlier this month the appointment of Gregg Lowe as general manager of its High Performance Analog (HPA) business unit. Lowe replaces Syrus Madavi, the former Burr-Brown Corp. executive who had been heading the HPA unit since TI's acquisition of Burr-Brown in September 2000.
This latest management change comes in the wake of a drop in TI's analog IC revenue from $4.1 billion in 2000 to $3 billion in 2001, according to IC Insights Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz. The decrease places TI in jeopardy of losing its top analog position to STMicroelectronics Inc., which TI overtook in 1997.
In its marketing campaigns over the past few years, TI has aggressively promoted its No. 1 spot in analog ICs and general-purpose DSPs. The company built up its analog strength both through internal growth and a series of acquisitions that included Benchmarq, Burr-Brown, Graychip, Power Trends, and Unitrode.
But that growth has suffered a setback, said IC Insights analyst Brian Matas. TI suffered in 2001 because of its overdependence on communications-related end markets, Matas said, "but I think they're poised with the regrouping of their business for pretty rapid growth once things pick up again. They're involved in all the right areas and newly emerging products. They seem well positioned, especially in high-performance analog."
"The market had a tremendously down year," Lowe told EBN. "TI has held an excellent position in wireless handsets, and that market got hit harder than others. We were probably more exposed."
Still in transition
The appointment of Lowe indicates that TI's analog IC business is still in transition, said Ada Cheng, a Gartner Dataquest Inc. analyst in San Jose.
"TI has had four VPs head their analog business in the last two years," Cheng said. "That's a lot of management change in a short period of time. With that kind of shifting going on, and reorganization continuing due to acquisitions and mergers, it will take some time to see the results."
TI's High Volume Analog and Logic (HVAL) business unit, which manufactures standard and catalog devices, generates approximately 60% of the company's analog IC revenue, while the HPA unit, which offers more differentiated and higher-volume analog ICs, is responsible for the other 40%.
The company has about 20,000 analog customers, and during the downturn was able, according to Lowe, to concentrate efforts on design wins. TI earned more than 15,000 analog IC design wins in 2001, compared with 10,000 in 2000, he said.
Although no research firm has yet to officially confirm figures, STMicroelectronics' chief economist, Jean Philip Dauvin, has reported that the Geneva-based company had analog IC revenue in 2001 of $3.79 billion, up slightly from $3.74 billion in 2000 and surpassing TI's reported revenue for last year. IC Insights and another research firm, Databeans Inc., Reno, Nev., have estimated ST's 2001 analog IC revenue at approximately $2.9 billion.
"I'm a little leery [of ST's $3.79 billion figure]," IC Insights' Matas said. "But it does appear that ST has been a pretty steady player during the downturn. It looks like when we revisit these numbers in April, we will have to go with STMicroelectronics as the leading supplier in the analog market."
TI this week declined to comment on the question of market share, saying it will not concede the No. 1 analog IC position to ST unlesscompleted reports show that to be so.
TI says it's poised
Whatever the rankings may show, TI believes it is well positioned to move ahead in analog ICs. The company has invested heavily in this end of its business. In addition to its outlays for acquisitions, TI in the past two years has upgraded three of its analog fabs from 6- to 8in. wafers and maintains another 6in.-wafer fab dedicated to analog. The company introduced 500 analog products last year and plans to introduce a similar number this year, according to Lowe.
"We have one of the best cadre of engineers in the analog market," he said. "TI is a large company with the capacity to do both pure analog and mixed-signal. At the highest level, it's a question of total signal processing, both analog and digital, and TI has a unique capability of being strong on both sides. There are not too many companies that have our analog and DSP strengths."