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High-end smartphone market to solely give Q'comm a boost

Posted: 30 Nov 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MediaTek? Qualcomm? smartphone? processor? SoC?

This year has seen MediaTek dragging down Qualcomm's market share in smartphones. However, those gains may slow next year as its larger rival rolls out new products for the high-end space.

In the past 12 months, MediaTek's share of China's smartphone market, the world's largest, nearly doubled as it launched octa-core products to compete with Qualcomm's 600-800 Snapdragon SoCs. Now the going is a bit tougher.

"We may not see the 90-point progress that we had this year, but 70 points is still possible," said Jeffrey Ju, MediaTek's newly appointed COO. "We have not yet entered the high-end flagship market. The mistakes our competitor made with the Snapdragon 810 haven't provided a direct opportunity to increase our share. So, there's still a lot of opportunity for us."

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810, reportedly plagued by power-consumption problems, will soon be refreshed by the Snapdragon 820, which some analysts see as a comeback chi. For its part, MediaTek will launch the Helio x30 for high-end smartphones next year, made on the 16nm FinFET+ process of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), and supporting low-power DDR4 (LPDDR4) memory, universal flash storage (UFS) and 4,000 pixel (4K) display, Ju said.

Jeffrey Ju

MediaTek COO sees probability of 70-point progress (Photo: EE Times Taiwan)

The competition is likely to get stiffer next year, according to some analysts.

"Qualcomm's traction remains much higher at the branded Chinese companies ZTE, Coolpad, TCL and Xiaomi, but remains smaller at the smaller Chinese brands and whitebox, where MediaTek retains majority share," said Randy Abrams, an analyst with Credit Suisse. "Qualcomm is looking to regain traction with a refresh of chipsets in the second half of 2015 and another refresh in 1H16."

Qualcomm is supplying its Snapdragon 200 series (S215/MSM 8909) into the entry tier and plans a launch of the Snapdragon 400 series (S412/S430) and Snapdragon 600 series (S617/S618/S620), according to Abrams. The chipsets claim to bring down carrier aggregation, octa-core and advanced imaging into a lower-end stack to stay aggressive, competing for share with MediaTek in the mass market, he said.

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