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SigmaTel out, Samsung in at new iPod shuffle

Posted: 07 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SigmaTel? Samsung? Apple Computer? iPod? MP3?

Apple Computer Inc.'s new iPod shuffle does not contain SigmaTel Inc.'s MP3 decoder chip, as previously thought, according to an analyst. Instead, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd is said to have won the new Pod shuffle socket at Apple, said Craig Berger, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities Inc.

SigmaTel had been the incumbent supplier of MP3 processor chips for the older-generation iPod shuffle. However, according to a teardown of the iPod shuffle by Apple Insider, the MP3 decoder chip had an ''Apple logo'' with a specific part number: 337S3300 844A, Berger said. This is somewhat similar to the Samsung supplied MP3 chip for the iPod nano, which has a part number 337S3291, according to the analyst.

Based on these findings, Berger concluded that Samsung is making the MP3 decoder chips for both the iPod shuffle and nano. In April an executive from South Korea's Samsung said the company won the MP3 media processor business for Apple's next-generation iPods. That design-win turned out to be for the iPod nano, the mid-range MP3 player from Apple. PortalPlayer Inc., the incumbent chip supplier, lost the business.

But after an apparent ''gaffe'' by the executive from Samsung, Apple reportedly ''punished'' the South Korean semiconductor giant by maintaining its MP3 chip alliance with SigmaTel for the shuffle, according to Berger in May.

In any case, PortalPlayer and SigmaTel are struggling after the apparent design setbacks. ''While [SigmTel] management is now touting a significant and aggressive recovery plan to investors, we remain guarded about the key revenue and gross margin assumptions being used to drive its forecast and expect continued losses in 2007,'' Berger said.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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