QUALCOMM IS likely to remain top of the mobile handset semiconductor pops for a long time to come, according to a recent report.
Cementing a deal with Nokia this month to partner on developing advanced UMTS mobile devices will prove highly lucrative for the firm, according to market research outfit Isupply. The chip counters reckon Qualcomm's Q408 revenues made up 40.6 per cent of global revenues from mobile handset baseband semiconductors shipments.
Qualcomm also managed to extend its lead over Texas Instruments (TI), to 20.9 percentage points, up from 14.1 points in the third quarter of 2008.
Nokia and Qualcomm's jointly developed UMTS mobile devices will sport Qualcomm's 3G mobile station modem (MSM) MSM7 series and MSM8 series chipsets enabling mobile broadband on handsets.
The partnership, however, is not in the least self evident, with the two firms having suffered a bitter past relationship including legal battles over IP rights and royalty payments on 3G technology.
A senior beard at Isupply, Francis Sideco, also notes that Nokia has, in the past, used custom 3G silicon from ASIC powerhouses, STMicroelectronics and TI rather than Qualcomm.
"However, with 3G technology maturing, there is less differentiation to be had from custom ASIC solutions, making Qualcomm's standard silicon more attractive as it allows Nokia to focus on enhancing handset designs and service offerings to improve the consumer experience" says Sideco.
Having Nokia take on its 3G technology, modem, baseband and RF segments is great news for Qualcomm and not a bad move on Nokia's part either, with the firm now able to shift its focus to design and planning ahead for 4G phones in the near future. µ