Things are on the up for the UK’s small band of chip designers, Intellectual Property licensors and manufacturers.
Over the past few days, ARM , Wolfson Microelectronics and Cambridge Silicon Radio have reported stellar performances for the first half of the year. Even Zetex’s results today suggest the company is ready to bounce back in what it terms a challenging environment.
Perhaps most eye-catching was Wolfson’s progress as it catches the wave of consumers' apparently insatiable appetite for gadgets, especially digital music players such as the iPod, and the general portable devices segments. Sales up 43 percent on last year was rewarded by a hefty hike in its share price, valuing the company at almost half a billion pounds. And while we are getting used to CSR more than doubling half-year profits, a 128 percent increase in first-half profits to ?£37 million on turnover up by 97 percent on the previous year surely suggests the Bluetooth chip specialist has got it right for the time being.
One hundred million units of Bluetooth chips shipped in the first half of the year, which equates to a third of the total the company has shipped so far, is an amazing figure, and the company must be congratulated for sticking with the technology when others –shall we name Intel – decided not the pursue the short range wireless protocol after early hiccups with deployments.
With much speculation that Apple is about to come out with a Bluetooth enabled iPod, and integrated MP3 players from others a certainty by the end of the year, CSR seems to be riding the crest of a wave. It is also cleverly positioning itself as Bluetooth shifts emphasis to higher data rate versions encompassing ultra wideband (UWB) as envisaged with the tie up with the WiMedia Alliance.
ARM also joined in the fun, and while its share price does not seem to be moving fast, the licenses for its latest processors and physical IP certainly seem to be, all of which bodes well for a strong year.
Long may the hot summer continue.