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TI, Qualcomm set to dominate MID sector

Posted: 17 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile Internet device? MID market? application processor?

Forward Concepts forecasts that the market for ICs in mobile Internet devices (MIDs) is set to grow from $29 million in 2008 to $2.6 billion in 2012, with Texas Instruments Inc. and Qualcomm Inc. as leading suppliers of silicon.

Over the same period, number of global MID shipments is set to grow from 305,000 in 2008 to 40 million in 2012, the consultancy firm predicted. The MID market supports application processors, digital basebands, RF transceivers, power amplifiers, graphics, other coprocessors, imagers, touchscreen controllers, power management ICs and peripheral chips such as Wi-Fi, WiMAX, GPS, Bluetooth and mobile TV.

Although Apple's iPhone 3G marks a breakthrough in portable Internet access, user interaction and utility, Forward Concepts does not consider it to be a MID. According to the firm, an MID requires a 4- to 6-inch screen with higher resolution (VGA), TV out and optional mobile TV capabilities.

Processor battle
Meanwhile, a lot of attention is paid to the flagship application and baseband processors used within both the iPhone and MIDs, which has been characterized as a battleground for Intel x86 against ARM-based chips.

According to Forward Concepts, Intel has more chance of success in a different class of device, the ultramobile PC because x86 compatibility is important, and battery life expectations are similar to those of notebook computers.

TI, with its OMAP application processor family and the largest market share of the standalone smart phone applications processor market, is one of the two best-positioned non-x86 semiconductor vendors for supplying stand-alone applications processors for all classes of MIDs, the firm asserted. The other is Qualcomm with its SnapDragon application processor and 3G wireless position, a must have feature for the MID market.

Other players
Other chip suppliers will have plays in the MID market, including Nvidia, with its strong graphics capability which will play well for gaming applications and Samsung, with its applications processor experience and stacked memory capability. However, the user interface will be key to success in individual MID units and will likely need to respond not only to touch-based inputs but also to keep pace with other evolving input methods, such as those based on motion, gesture, placement, and so on.

"We don't envision MIDs as ever employing Microsoft's Vista OS; however, we believe that Microsoft has a MID play with future versions of Windows Mobile. Of course, Linux will be popular in MIDs for its lower processing overhead and tighter OEM control," said Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times Europe

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