LONDON Broadcom Inc. may have to return to the acquisition trail to build scale and breadth of technology if it wants to challenge Qualcomm, Infineon and ST-Ericsson for big design wins in the increasingly competitive cellular baseband business, according to market tracker Strategy Analytics (Milton Keynes, England).
The market researchers say Broadcom's cellular baseband revenues are not yet significant enough to be a major player in the sector, despite recent wins.
For instance, it is a strong baseband supplier with both EDGE and 3G design-wins at top handset vendors Nokia and Samsung.
In February, Broadcom’s prospects in the sector were boosted when Nokia said it will use the chip maker's designs in some of its next generation high-speed packet access (HSPA)-based handsets.
But Sravan Kundojjala, Analyst commented : "Strategy Analytics believes that Broadcom quickly needs to convert its aggressive mobile R&D spend into revenue and the company may need to go for further acquisition to build scale. Broadcom's competitors ST-Ericsson and Infineon both chose the acquisition route to build scale."
Stuart Robinson, Director of the company's Handset Component Technologies service added the researchers believe Nokia wants Broadcom to survive and prosper as part of the handset giant's multi-sourcing strategy.
The chip maker now has an opportunity to become a tier 1 baseband supplier "and the ball is firmly in Broadcom's court to deliver on that opportunity," sad Robinson.
Earlier this year, another market research group, iSuppli, suggested that in the fourth quarter of last year, Qualcomm accounted for 40.6 percent of global mobile baseband chipsets revenues, up from 36.3 percent in the third quarter. It expanded its market share at the expense of the number two in the sector, Texas Instruments, who took a 19.7 percent share in Q408, down from 22.1 percent the previous quarter.
iSuppli said in February the top six for handset basebands in Q408 were, in third slot, STMicroeletronics (14.5 percent), followed by MediaTek (8.3 percent), Infineon Technologies (4.5 percent) and Freescale Semiconductor in sixth slot with a 2.4 percent share, down from 5.7 percent in the previous quarter.
STMicroelectronics has since joined forces with Ericsson Mobile Platforms to form ST-Ericssson.
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