LONDON The two leading suppliers of power amplifiers for the mobile communications sector, Skyworks and RFMD, ended last year with close to one-third of the market, but Skyworks has for the first time edged slightly ahead of RFMD, according to market trackers Strategy Analytics.
In its latest look at the RF and wireless components sector, which explores changes in the handset and cellular device PA market brought about by the economic slowdown and contraction in cellphone shipments, Christopher Taylor, Director of the RF and Wireless Components service at Strategy Analytics suggests: "The transition from the frenetic demand in the first half of 2008 to a severely depressed Q4 caught many PA suppliers off guard.
"PAs for mid-priced handsets took the brunt of the slump, and so suppliers with high share in PAs for low-cost handsets and PAs for higher-end 3G handsets fared better than suppliers with broad portfolios at all price and performance points."
According to Taylor, the rapid growth of handsets has pushed the PA market to $2 billion per year, driving the fates of the two largest suppliers, Skyworks and RFMD, both dependent on PAs for the majority of their revenues despite diversification efforts.
Both firms, and their competitors, are said to have invested heavily in new PA products and technologies to meet the demands of the cellphone OEMs for ever more bands, higher data rates and lower PA prices.
"Compound semiconductor-based PAs will continue as the enabling technology for the high-growth 3G and emerging 4G markets," added Asif Anwar, Director of the Strategy Analytics GaAs and High Speed Semiconductor service.
"However, silicon-based PAs have started to gain traction in low-cost 2G handsets, as underscored by the recent acquisition of CMOS PA supplier Axiom Micro Devices by Skyworks. This acquisition should help Skyworks to maintain share in the recession-resistant low-cost segment of the market."
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