The topic of power management in a mobile phone would have drawn yawns from most people in the industry a few years ago. Handset power management circuitry lacked the glamour of such components as the DSP and the applications processor. But according to ABI Research's principal analyst of semiconductor research, Alan Varghese, today's high data rates, and the cellphone's evolution into a personal multimedia center boasting digital cameras, mobile video and advanced gaming, mean that all eyes are again on handset power consumption and battery life. So the power management section, which is responsible for converting battery energy into voltages to power all parts of the handset, will see renewed focus and innovation.
Does this mean increasing revenues and healthy profit margins for the semiconductor players in this space? "Not quite," says Varghese. "Like any other part of the high-volume electronics industry, this sector will see falling ASPs due to technological advances, increased manufacturing output, and supplier competition. And since tight coupling between handset components is crucial to reducing power consumption and increasing performance, companies that offer discrete power solutions are going to suffer at the hands of those offering integrated platform solutions."
But the good news is that, even though the price of an individual power supply circuit continues to fall, the total number of these circuits required in a portable device continues to increase, offsetting some of the general downward trend in industry ASPs. The key for power management players will be a multi-tiered product strategy that leverages high volumes and manufacturing efficiencies in the mature standards, as innovation delivers its associated high profit margins in the more advanced segments.
ABI Research's new study, "Power Management in Consumer Electronics" discusses these issues in detail, examining market drivers and inhibitors, business models, technology trends, forecasts and much more.
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