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Finally, a breath of fresh air

Posted: 01 Jan 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:signal processing? broadband? dsp? dsl? voip?

Rich Templeton is executive VP and COO for Texas Instruments Inc.

After the past few years, 2004 looks like it will be a well-deserved breath of fresh air. We have just begun to tap the potential that real-time signal processing will bring to the world of electronics. There are several specific trends that are driving the growth in the electronics industry:

? A rapidly increasing broadband subscriber base, especially in China;

? Digital cellphones transitioning from voice-only to high-speed multimedia devices;

? The consumer electronics industry continuing a transition to digital technology.

Each of these relies on real-time signal processing, which has DSP and analog technologies at its core.

TI envisions a future where all consumer electronic devices will have a wireless connection, allowing seamless communication with any device over any network, anywhere, anytime. We believe that communications and connectivity will move beyond the handset to all consumer electronics like cameras, portable audio players, home entertainment systems, telematics and more. In fact, to quote TI's CEO, Tom Engibous, "Wireless terminals will be the platform that everything is built on."

As part of this increased connectivity and the coexistence of multiple wireless networks, people and devices will communicate seamlessly across WLAN, cellular, personal area networks, ultra wideband and GPS. Demand for devices capable of communicating seamlessly across all these networks will translate into tremendous business opportunities for Asian companies engaged in the broadband and wireless sectors.

Worldwide, broadband subscribers for DSL and cable modems were expected to grow about 50 percent last year. Broadband systems facilitate the development of new applications for consumers and service providers, and offer churn reduction and services revenue for operators. The pace of broadband adoption in Asia has been so high that it's easy to forget that the world as a whole is still in the early stages of the broadband revolution. Broadband will be one of the key transformations of the 21st century, once more people have high-speed connections and can use that bandwidth throughout their homes.

TI is especially excited about the Asian wireless market because the fastest-growing part of our wireless business is ODMs in Asia, particularly in Taiwan and Korea. These companies use TI's chipsets to build phones for OEMs. In China, domestic phone manufacturers have been doubling their share of the local market for the past three to four years. And in India, the world's second fastest growing handset market, we may see the emergence of a domestic OEM this year, which would accelerate growth in the Indian wireless market.

Higher levels of integration and functions as consumer devices keep getting smaller with higher functionality will continue to be the trend in the consumer market. Nikkei Market Access predicts camera phones will enjoy 49 percent worldwide market penetration in 2005, and an impressive 78 percent penetration in 2008.

All these new features have several market implications, which include the acceleration of replacement rates - because many consumers view these features as warranting a device upgrade. We'll also see continued market segmentation with different types of products being available for a variety of markets.

Not surprisingly, consumers continue to demand small, sleek devices with ever-increasing battery life. This means a continued drive for more integrated solutions, which is why TI is on track to deliver a single-chip GSM cellphone solution with baseband and RF, specifically for the voice-centric market, by the end of this year.

The consumer electronics industry's transition to digital technology is spurring growth in areas like performance audio, digital imaging, HDTV and portable A/V. Portable products are an increasingly significant part of the electronics and semiconductor markets. The keys today are wired and wireless connectivity, support for multiple standards, higher fidelity, more resolution and better graphics - while consuming less power and fitting into ever smaller form factors.

There is an exciting time ahead. The technology velocity is high; the semiconductor content in electronics is expanding; and those companies who continued to invest in R&D, despite the downturn, will be in a great position to take advantage.

- Rich Templeton

Executive VP and COO

Texas Instruments Inc.

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