Only a handful of companies are making handset modems today. At this rate of decline, it wont take long before competition gets wiped out. The ones remaining will resort to arm twisting tactics and consumers will suffer.
Indeed. It goes to show how quickly this celluar market could change. Especially competing in the mid to low-end is getting extremely tough. (Abd of course in the United States where handsets are heavily subsidized by operator, handset solutions could go extremely high-end, which makes it virtually impossible to compete if your chips are not in either Samsung or in Apple.
The writing has been on the wall for a while here. I'm sure Apple and Samsung want a good alternative to Qualcomm, but technically they are so far ahead on LTE that nobody (except perhaps Intel) has deep enough pockets to catch up. Eventually. Qualcomm owns developed markets, Mediatek owns emerging (China) markets. Everyone else is bleeding money. Admittedly the move is long term negative for Broadcom's connectivity business but the financial pain was too great - the shares were trading at a significant discount to peers.
There is an element of impatience in this closing decision as well. Broadcom acquired Renesas and is now closing down the whole thing (legacy Broadcom + Renesas cellular business) within 8 months. Is it realistic for complex modem technology to come out as phones in less than 8 months, and that too in large volumes? I wonder why the market related calculations could not have been done earlier .....
CEOs from all sectors (not just tech) are even more hard-pressed today to make risky decisions work. If an investment doesn't yield the kinds of gains that are most beneficial to shareholders within six to nine months, their job is on the line. I'm not inferring here that McGregor 's position was in jeopardy because there were no sentiments on the Street of that nature. But I think we will see management at more companies pull out of a market quickly, if they can't gain traction fast enough to be a market share leader.
Unless you are consistently selling >350~450M chipsets a year it is hard to fund the efforts required to maintain the level of complexity that modern cellular modems demand. These extracts from above say it all:
"We don't see enough traction there on the order of 3,000 engineers."
"Eric Brandt, Broadcom's chief financial officer, said the cellular baseband business revenue run rate for the first half of 2014 is between $200 million and $250 million, with gross margins of just tens of millions of dollars."
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