By Natasha Lomas
Intel (INTC) looks as if it's finally getting its act together in the smartphone market. The chipmaker can now point to six phones that have launched this year with its Atom x86 Medfield chips inside, including -- most recently -- a partnership with Google (GOOG) owned Motorola for a European handset, the Razr i. Other Intel-chipped devices are either carrier-branded and/or destined for European or Asian markets.
The U.S. has yet to see an Intel-powered phone launch -- and a likely explanation is because its current smartphone chips don’t support LTE/4G. Intel says it will be introducing products this year (and next) that do support LTE, but in the meanwhile chipmakers that jumped on 4G early are reaping the benefits of their foresight.
A Strategy Analytics report into the smartphone chip market notes that Intel took just 0.2% unit shipment share in the first half of 2012, while Qualcomm (QCOM), the leading chipmaker, grabbed a 48% revenue share in the first half of the year. Qualcomm’s LTE Snapdragon processor MSM8960 has been a big hit for the company, the analyst notes.
"The company’s high-end LTE Snapdragon processor MSM8960 gained strong traction and featured in multiple LTE flagships from global tier-one smartphone manufacturers," wrote Senior Analyst Sravan Kundojjala. "Qualcomm’s early LTE modem leadership has helped the company to stay ahead of the competition."
Scores of devices pack the MSM8960 chip -- including the Motorola Droid Razr M, the Droid Razr HD, the Razr Maxx HD, some models of Samsung’s Galaxy SIII flagship, the HTC One XL, the HTC Evo 4G LTE, and various forthcoming Windows Phone-based handsets such as the Samsung Ativ S and the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920.
After Qualcomm, the next four smartphone chipmaker top spots are taken by Samsung, MediaTek, Broadcom (BRCM), and Texas Instruments (TXN), according to the report. Overall, the analyst said the market showed “robust” growth -- growing 61% year on year in the first half of 2012 to reach $5.5 billion.
Taiwan’s MediaTek recorded 13-fold year-on-year growth, ranking third on the strength of strong momentum in the low- to mid-range smartphone segment. Broadcom’s fourth place position was bolstered by "strategic low-end Android smartphone design-wins at Samsung," the analyst added.