As Mediatek raises its game, it will compete with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 chipset -- which has gained strong traction in 2013 from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Xiaomi smartphones, according to the report. The analysts called Qualcomm "the company to beat in mobile processors," citing its broad product portfolio and integration capabilities.
"While Qualcomm's LTE baseband technology and marketshare leadership are unquestioned, we believe that certain competitors' products are production ready and have the potential to take share from Qualcomm in 2014, especially in the mid to low tier," Stephen Entwistle, a vice president at Strategy Analytics, told us.
The global tablet processor market grew 30% to $1.2 billion in the third quarter, according to another Strategy Analytics report. Apple dominated the market with a 40% share. Qualcomm rose to the No. 2 position (13%) due to design wins in the latest Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, the report said.
Qualcomm didn't figure into the top five spot two quarters ago. Strategic Analytics analysts called Qualcomm's ascension a dramatic turn.
"The non-Apple tablet applications processor market leadership continues to be a game of musical chairs offering challenges and opportunities for vendors in the non-Apple tablet applications processor market," Entwistle wrote.
Intel took third place in tablet SoCs with a revenue share of 8%. MediaTek came in fourth and said it expects to ship 20 million SoCs for tablets in 2013.
"For mainstream smartphones, we don't believe there is anything that requires a very big processor," said Bhushan. "But when you get into tablets, you need the burst of power big.LITTLE provides."
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times