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November 14, 2011

Qualcomm Pushing Ahead in the Mobile Baseband Market

By Jerry Olsen, Contributing Writer

Qualcomm, leading semiconductor and chip manufacturer has taken the lead in the mobile baseband chip market. The company has also become the leader in unit volume and revenue.

In 2007, the company grabbed the number one spot from Texas Instruments, but hasn’t held that position (in terms of units and revenue) due to competition from low-cost 2G providers such as MediaTek of Taiwan and Intel/Infineon in the U.S.

A survey by Strategy Analytics (News - Alert) said that Qualcomm's mobile baseband share is over 41 percent by revenue.

The survey also said the handset baseband market has been in turmoil for the past few years, and companies like Texas Instruments (News - Alert) and Freescale have fallen completely out of the race. However, companies such as Renesas Mobile and China’s Spredtrum have been expanding in this area.

Traditional mobile semiconductor companies like Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson (News - Alert) and Broadcom have been chasing more integrated systems-on-chip by incorporating the baseband, processors, and other elements.

In order to compete in the marketplace, application processor companies like Nvidia and Intel are acquiring baseband companies like Icera (News - Alert) and Infineon Wireless.

When it comes to the overall mobile chip market, the Linley Group, one of the leading experts in communications and semiconductor markets, predicts an overall growth of almost 49 percent, and revenues rising from $21.4 billion to $29.9 billion.

This forecast from Linley includes chips in the following categories:

  • Cellular Basebands
  • Application Processors
  • Bluetooth Transceivers
  • Mobile Wi-Fi chips
  • GPS Receivers

According to Chief Analyst Linley Gwennap, “The mobile market has changed dramatically in the last few years, subjecting both mobile device manufacturers and chip vendors to significant shifts in market share.”

The Linley report also predicted that WiFi is leading in the mobile chip market, and is expected to grow by 14 percent between 2015.

Due to factors such as breaking into the Nokia account, as well as strengthening its position at Apple, Qualcomm plans to achieve mobile chip revenue of $9.7 billion by 2012.

Analysts predict Broadcom (News - Alert) as the big winner, gaining 14.7 percent of revenue across all mobile chip categories by 2015. Broadcom also plans to see serious grown in its 3G baseband activities as well – largely because of the company’s existing strength in Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/GPS combo chips.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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