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Mobile devices a shining light in lacklustre semiconductor market

Growing more than 20% in 2011, shipments of mobile devices has intensified and stopped the silicon and compound semiconductor markets from being a washout

Mobile device semiconductors were one of the few bright spots in a chipset market that stalled in 2011.

This is according to ABI Research’s new study, “Mobile Device Semiconductor Markets,” which focuses on baseband ICs, applications processors and power amplifiers, in mobile devices. These are used in applications such as smartphones, media tablets and e-book readers and the report offers market sizes, forecasts, and supplier market shares.

Revenue from chipsets designed for mobile devices increased by more than 20% to $35 billion, while the total semiconductor market limped out of 2011 with just 2% year-on-year growth.

“It’s tempting to describe this industry as lacklustre,” says Peter Cooney, practice director, semiconductors, ABI Research. “But then, some segments of the semiconductor market are booming and vendors concentrating on the mobile device sector have delivered very healthy growth in 2011.”

Shipments of mobile devices are driving growth for a range of semiconductor components including modems, applications processors, wireless connectivity ICs, MEMS sensors, and audio ICs.

Platform ICs (including modems, applications processors, RF components, and PMUs) account for the bulk of overall revenues, but are becoming an increasingly competitive section of the market.

Compound semiconductor competitors include RFMD, TriQuint and Skyworks who manufacture RF components used in mobile devices.

The main players in the market though, are Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson, MediaTek, Intel, Texas Instruments, Broadcom, Marvell, and Renesas Mobile. These firms have positioned themselves as platform solution suppliers and the top 10 suppliers now account for more than 75% of total revenues. ABI Research says their dominance will continue to build as niche suppliers are acquired or muscled out of the market.

Growth and opportunities will be more prevalent within wireless connectivity ICs (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, etc.) as well as MEMS sensors and audio. Growth across the three segments is expected to top a 30% CAGR from 2011 to 2016.
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