The lag time between Qualcomm’s announcement and the new Snapdragon’s ship date will give other companies plenty of time to compete, says Linley Gwennap, founder and chief analyst at The Linley Group.
“Qualcomm is very strong at the high end, MediaTek is the leader at low end," says Gwennap. "What we’re seeing in the next year is Qualcomm invading Mediatek’s market, and Mediatek will invade Qualcomm’s -- it’s going to be a real slugfest out there."
Qualcomm "had the only handset multimode LTE chips in 2012 and this year still has 90 percent of that market," says Will Strauss, principal of market watcher Forward Concepts of Tempe, Ariz.
For its part, Mediatek was the first company to use a Cortex-A7 processor and integrate WiFi into the low-end phone market, says Gwennap. It is now getting "jumped over" by Qualcomm offering LTE in the same market range. LTE isn’t in high demand in low-cost phones, where Mediatek has an edge. Qualcomm will try to change that fact in 2014, Gwennap tells us.
The biggest hurdle for Qualcomm's competitors is in developing a base LTE platform quickly, says analyst Gary Smith of Gary Smith EDA.
“Qualcomm now has engineers free to work on the next upgrade, and if [competitors]… don’t get their base platform out for six months, then the game’s pretty much over from there," Smith says. "Once a platform is established, it’s almost impossible to catch up.
"We’re going to see some new players jump into the game, but how much knowledge they have in the whole phone platform is going to be the difference."
The Snapdragon 410 which includes support for WiFi, Bluetooth, FM, and NFC and is expected to consume 1 to 5 watts is a highly integrated offering, notes Gwennap.
"You can pretty much take what they are delivering and wrap some plastic around it and ship a smartphone," he says. "For other companies, it’s a challenge to really pull together all those technologies and deliver them in a package."
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times
Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Rick Merritt contributed to this article.