The end-game envisioned by every chip company working in China these days is to get China's dynamic Internet players -- such as Alibaba and Tencent -- on their side, talking them into pairing new services with the chipmakers' new technologies. As the services get popular, so will their chips, they believe.
Hotknot is no exception.
"But our first job is to build the infrastructure, making sure that millions of smartphones used in China will actually come with Hotknot," said MediaTek's Li.
Leveraging supply chain dominance
MediaTek's goal to make Hotknot a feature in most smartphones sold in China is neither far-fetched nor the Impossible Dream. MediaTek already owns more than a 40-percent market share of touch driver chips sold in China -- through Goodix, partly owned by MediaTek, and Mstar, acquired by MediaTek. Goodix last year had a 24 percent share and Mstar 18 percent.
However, the biggest player in the touch controller IC market in China is Taiwan-based FocalTech. The company held roughly a 40 percent share last year, according to Li. "We are currently in negotiation with FocalTech to adopt Hotknot," he said.
The beauty of MediaTek's HotKnot strategy is that MediaTek can simply leverage its dominance in the supply chain in smartphone chips and touch controller ICs.
MediaTek doesn't even need to ask rival smartphone apps-processor companies such as Qualcomm or Intel for their consent to adopt HotKnot. Hotknot will penetrate via touch-controller ICs.
Meanwhile, handset vendors can add Hotknot simply by buying advanced touch-controller chips with Hotknot, which will be a part of MediaTek's smartphone "turnkey" solutions.
Li said that every MediaTek customer -- China's handset suppliers such as Oppo or Lenovo -- will receive a Hotknot software package at the end of March.
MediaTek president C.J. Hsieh briefly talked about Hotknot in an interview with EE Times earlier this year during the International CES in Las Vegas, showing his clear enthusiasm for the technology.
But the company's efforts to promote Hotknot have been rather quiet thus far -- at least outside China.
Technical details of Hotknot's specs have not been disclosed. A MediaTek spokewoman confirmed this, saying, "As far as I know, we have not published any [Hotknot] technical papers."
— Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, EE Times