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October 24, 2012

New Report Predicts Strong Growth in Wireless Connectivity Combo ICs

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

As the world becomes increasingly connected, the growth represents significant sales opportunity for companies that manufacture networking devices and equipment to gain market share: specifically, IC vendors such as Broadcom, Qualcomm, TI, Marvell, MediaTek (News - Alert), and others.

These solutions, which are known as Wireless Connectivity Combo ICs, have already seen rapid adoption in smartphones and are now seeing strong usage growth in many other end applications including laptops, flat panel TVs, and automotive infotainment systems. Total annual market shipments are expected to surpass two billion units by 2017, according to a new report by ABI Research (News - Alert).

Image via Shutterstock

"Combo ICs have seen strong adoption in the smartphone market as attach rates of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are very high,” said ABI Research’s practice director, Peter Cooney. “This move towards combo ICs has not only helped reduce BoM costs but has also changed the competitive environment entirely. Whereas once there were many competitors, all focused on individual technologies, there are now fewer vendors with wide product portfolios able to push combo ICs into many new markets,” he added.

A lot of the growth potential is in the growing adoption of smartphones. In 2011, smartphones accounted for almost 60 percent of total wireless connectivity combo IC shipments, said ABI. Soon, however, devices such as laptops and tablets will start to use combo ICs in ever-increasing numbers. Other markets will include feature phones, games consoles, health and medical equipment, home automation gateways, and many more that will adopt combo ICs.

"The next phase in market development is the further integration of wireless connectivity technologies into platform ICs,” said Cooney. “This is already starting to happen in the smartphone market and is expected to accelerate as lower-end smartphones, with tight costs constraints, become the largest section of the market over the coming years. We expect many vendors to follow the path that Qualcomm (News - Alert) is setting with its snapdragon 4 platform,” he added.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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