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Mediatek advances as mobile SoC vendor in Q3

27 Dec 2013

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Mediatek advanced to third place among mobile SoC vendors in Q3, according to a report from Strategy Analytics. The company said it is planning to ship chips with 64bit cores and LTE in 2014 in an effort to strengthen its position in markets outside Asia. Mediatek captured 10 per cent of the smartphone SoC market in the said quarter.

Qualcomm rose to second place (behind Apple) in SoCs for tablets in the quarter in what one market watcher called a "dramatic turn."

The global smartphone applications processor market grew 31 per cent from a year earlier to $4.9 billion, according to the Strategy Analytics report.

Qualcomm, Apple, Mediatek, Samsung, and Spreadtrum were the top five revenue earners, capturing 80 per cent of the smartphone SoC market in the quarter. Qualcomm continued to dominate the sector with a 53 per cent revenue share.

Mohit Bhushan, Mediatek's vice president and general manager of US corporate marketing, told us the company will integrate LTE into its SoCs in 2014. It also will roll out SoCs with 64-ARM cores using ARM's big.little architecture, targeting tablet and handsets. The integration will make Mediatek's chips "very mainstream and ready for the US [and] the European market" as the company aims at higher-end devices.

Finbarr Moynihan, Mediatek's general manager of international sales and marketing, said at a press conference: "Mediatek has been very strong in China, southeast Asia, and doing better in Europe... but our market share in the US is still quite small. I think there's opportunity to ship more products, to have our customers ship more products. LTE is a key part of that."

Moynihan predicted that Mediatek will ship more than 200 million SoCs for smartphones by the end of the year. In 2014, it will continue to push its MT6592 octacore processor internationally, though it will be in phones in Asian markets by yearend.

Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa processor hasn't attained the same success as its previous version. Strategy Analytics said the LTE-integrated chip "can enable Samsung to go after the high-volume mid-range market in 2014 and thus regain some volume share."

As Mediatek raises its game, it will compete with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 chipset—which has gained strong traction in 2013 from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Xiaomi smartphones, according to the report. The analysts called Qualcomm "the company to beat in mobile processors," citing its broad product portfolio and integration capabilities.

"While Qualcomm's LTE base band technology and market share leadership are unquestioned, we believe that certain competitors' products are production ready and have the potential to take share from Qualcomm in 2014, especially in the mid to low tier," Stephen Entwistle, a vice president at Strategy Analytics, told us.

The global tablet processor market grew 30 per cent to $1.2 billion in the third quarter, according to another Strategy Analytics report. Apple dominated the market with a 40 per cent share. Qualcomm rose to the No. 2 position (13 per cent) due to design wins in the latest Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, the report said.

Qualcomm didn't figure into the top five spot two quarters ago. Strategic Analytics analysts called Qualcomm's ascension a dramatic turn.

"The non-Apple tablet applications processor market leadership continues to be a game of musical chairs offering challenges and opportunities for vendors in the non-Apple tablet applications processor market," Entwistle wrote.

Intel took third place in tablet SoCs with a revenue share of 8 per cent. MediaTek came in fourth and said it expects to ship 20 million SoCs for tablets in 2013.

"For mainstream smartphones, we don't believe there is anything that requires a very big processor," said Bhushan. "But when you get into tablets, you need the burst of power big.LITTLE provides."

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