I must confess. When I first saw Aster at MTK's suite during CES, I didn't think much of it.
As far as its spec is concerned, it's ho hum.
As far as the target market is concerned, it seems it's designed for wearable devices more much more primitive in nature.
But the more I talked to MediaTek and thought about the whole concept (Aster is to drive a periferal device for smartphone; not a replacement of smartphones), the more intrigued I have become.
It's simple, but the chip is addressing a segment of market mos of the western chip vendors aren't even thinking about... and that has alot to do with the end of smartphone era blog I just wrote yesterday.
Thank you for the article Junko. In their search for the shiny new devices, many people missed the valuable IoT technologies being introduced at CES, including the development platforms by MediaTek and Freescale, the sensor technology highlighted by ST, and the innovation around energy harvesting by Spansion, just to name a few. There are going to be many applications that range from simple sensors connected wirelessly through hubs like the smartphone to smart devices. These platforms are a makers dream and are likely to unleash a wave of product and application innovation.
With this price range, with these capabilities(and the ones we'll learn when it's released) and with it's unique manufacturing method(assembly of multiple die instead of the standard single die) it competes with some microcontrollers. I hope they won't limit sales only to big companies. It could be a great "maker" mcu, and makers do seem valuable in this market.
Also , this could be the thing that pushes multiple-die-assembly to the mainstream, creating many interesting possibilities.
MediaTek with its cheap chipset is one of the companies that is giving Samsung and Apple big troubles at the moment. Without Mediatek, most of the Android tablets and phones peddled by Chinese makers will not be possible. If they move big into these fields, they will crash the price ceiling and hurt the margins for Samsung and Apple (yes, iWatch is coming). Nearly all the cheap smartphones in Africa are powered by Mediatek chipset
Mediatek has been doing interesting things in emerging markets for some time, but wearables are hot right now and there's opportunity for growth here unlike anything else they've gotten themselves into. It's definitely a threat to vendors that have established themselves with their own chipsets and who directly compete with Mediatek in the smartphone space.
Having a list of qualified vendors who can devise their own products for the market running your technology makes a company like MediaTek all the more confident going into new areas. They are expanding geographically--into China--at the same time that they are expanding into a new market segment--namely wearables. Given that that is the case, they are in a much stronger position when they can spread their influence in this way.
>> By offering OEMs everything from firmware to drivers and a qualified vendor list, MTK efficiently enables customers to launch their end products probably much faster than anyone else.
More than 90% of Android phones in Africa run on MediaTek chipsets. Anyone can be a phone manufacturer. Just have a decent cleanroom for packaging. Buy the chipset from MediaTek and you have a brand. If they do same in wearable, Samsung and co will see more pains.