The competitive landscape of the handset core IC market has shifted dramatically over the past five years (though Qualcomm is still on top).
The tremendous growth in smartphone sales over the past five years, coupled with the rise of 4G LTE, have reshaped the cellphone chip market landscape, with Qualcomm Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. capitalizing the most, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.
Qualcomm (San Diego) has reigned supreme in the market for application specific handset IC like baseband and RF chips since 2007, IHS said. Last year, Qualcomm captured 31 percent of all handset core IC revenue, according to IHS’s wireless competitive landscape report. Qualcomm’s market share was up from 23 percent in 2007, IHS, said.
Samsung’s rise has been perhaps more impressive. In 2007, the South Korean giant did not even rank in the top 10 in handset IC sales, according to IHS. By last year, Samsung held firm to the No. 2 spot, capturing 21 percent of all handset core IC revenue, according to the IHS report.
Together, Qualcomm and Samsung accounted for more than half of the total market, with the next eight chip vendors combined accounting for about 34 percent of handset core IC sales, IHS said. Collectively, the top 10 players in the market captured 86 percent of all revenue, according to IHS.
According to Brad Shaffer, analyst for consumer and communications at IHS, the rise of smartphones and 4G LTE have created “paradigm shifts that transformed competition” in the market for mobile handset core ICs.
“The arrival of Apple Inc.’s iPhone five years ago changed the game and paved the way for the current market rankings,” Shaffer said. “This change is dramatically illustrated by looking at the major differences in the cellphone core IC rankings from 2007 to 2012. The companies that benefited from the shift in market orientation rose to domination while others that were caught between changing market environments were left in limbo.”
IHS defines the cellphone core IC market as including chips that provide mobile handsets with wireless wide-area-networking (WWAN) communication and application-processing capabilities. The market segments include handset core ICs for analog baseband, digital baseband, power amplifiers, radio and intermediate frequencies, high-level operating systems and software processors, and other multimedia or graphics coprocessors.