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Japanese Fall Away As TriQuint Ascends GaAs Ranks

Strategy Analytics cites TriQuint as the big winner in its 2006 ranking of GaAs device manufacturers.

US-based chip companies have strengthened their grip on the GaAs device market, with Mitsubishi Electric now the only firm to represent Japan in the top ten.

That's according to Strategy Analytics assessment of the 2006 market for merchant and captive GaAs device sales.

In 2006 the top three suppliers - RF Micro Devices, Skyworks Solutions and TriQuint Semiconductor - held 55 percent of the $3 billion market, up from 47 percent in 2005.

Those three suppliers have dominated the GaAs scene for the past few years, although TriQuint was the star performer in 2006, with its GaAs device revenues estimated to have grown 37 percent year-on-year.

Anadigics also had a very good year, meaning that US companies now dominate the top-ten list more than ever, with no European manufacturers featuring, and only Mitsubishi Electric flying the flag for Japan.

While Europe s leading producers - Filtronic, United Monolithic Semiconductors and Ommic - are unlikely to make much of a dent in that US domination, there is at least an opportunity for Mitsubishi s compatriots to mount a challenge, says report author Asif Anwar.

"Switch complexities are increasing, which could potentially provide Japanese companies with an opportunity to regain lost ground in the cellular handset market," suggested the analyst.

"We believe that Japanese market requirements may be particularly demanding, which will play to the strengths of companies like NEC, Sony and Eudyna Devices."

Power amplifiers (PAs) represent the biggest single market opportunity, and Strategy Analytics also believes that this sector could be ripe for consolidation, even as the GaAs device market expands to a predicted $5 billion by 2011 on the back of increased demand for broadband wireless connectivity.

Chris Taylor, another analyst at the market research and consultancy firm, reckons that the supplier base for handset PAs and front-end modules could follow the consolidation already seen in the market for similar products used in cellular base stations.

Only two major producers of base station PAs remain, says Taylor - Andrew and Powerwave. He speculates that the dominance of just a handful of handset makers, led by Nokia, Samsung and Motorola, could force a similar situation, leaving perhaps as few as six suppliers of handset PAs by 2012.

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