The following article was contributed by Peter DiPaolo, wireless semiconductor analyst with Semiconductor Insights Semiconductor Insights. Based in Kanata, Ontario Canada, Semiconductor Insights provides technical and patent analyses of integrated circuits and structures.
My Nokia cell phone recently had a nasty altercation with my driveway, and the driveway won. Granted the phone was an older model, having served me well for several years. When I was taking the phone apart in a feign attempt to fix it, I realized that it provided a historical record of Nokia's strategy circa 1999, including:
*Nokia's design methodology at the time.
*Which chips Nokia was using for what function.
*An insight into the handset's total cost to manufacture.
From a chip company perspective, this snapshot highlighted which vendors were getting design wins with Nokia at the time. Hindsight being 20/20, I reasoned that if this Nokia snapshot was extended across multiple cell phones, numerous vendors, and several years, it would provide an objective and comprehensive view of past successes and failures. More importantly, it would provide a key indicator into the likelihood of future success for handset vendors and chip suppliers alike.
So whose supplying Nokia now? Well, a recent analysis by Semiconductor Insights of Nokia's current generation smart phone complete with integrated digital camera, the Nokia 7650, revealed that ST Microelectronics dominates the RF and Power portions, while Texas Instruments owns the baseband portion of the cell phone.
Figure 1 provides an aggregated view of the chip design wins for each company in the Nokia 7650 phone.
Ultimately, design win information translates into market and financial success, or failure. In any event, my mishap with a broken cell phone has led me to better understand the real benefits of intelligence gathering on the history inside of a cell phone, specifically it's "chip history".
However, I am still without a cell phone as my frugal (read "cheap") nature has me scouring the net for a little plastic replacement antenna to fix my current phone. Until then, it will lay in pieces, collecting dust (and static charge) on my cluttered desk in my home office. Meanwhile I'm contemplating which wireless chip stocks to invest in, once I have the nerve to reenter the tech market.