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Commentary: MediaTek set to due battle in global 3G handset chipset market in 2009

With MediaTek announcing that it is sampling its 3G WCDMA solution with customers at the end of 2008, the company joins the competition in the global 3G handset chipset market with players including Qualcomm, Infineon Technologies, Texas Instruments (TI), Freescale Semiconductor, Marvell, ST-NXP Wireless and Broadcom.

With a number chipset suppliers gearing up to introduce 3G solutions, along with the market share decline of TI in the overall market as the company continues to focus on the 2.5G handset market, players in the market have quickened their launch into the 3G handset market in order to avoid the erosion of average selling prices (ASP) that the extra competition would bring, noted market watchers.

According to a recent research bulletin issued by IC Insights, TI registered the second-worst growth rate (0%)among the top 20 semiconductor suppliers worldwide in the first half of this year, with IC Insights saying the company's results were more of a reflection of issues TI is facing in the market place rather than an overall handset market issue.

According to market watchers, Qualcomm was one of the leading performers among handset chipset makers in the first half of 2008, increasing its 3G handset market share by working with Nokia and High Tech Computer (HTC). Other handset vendors such as Research in Motion (RIM) and other Japanese vendors are also interested in Qualcomm's chipsets, which may help it maintain its market share in the second half of the year.

Other sources noted that Infineon is a new force in the 3G handset market this year with the popularity of the Apple iPhone series and Infineon is expected to have an even stronger performance as more new iPhone models are issued in the future.

TI, Freescale and Marvell will continue to perform well in the 3G handset market, grabbing orders from Sony Ericsson, Motorola and RIM, while ST-NXP Wireless, a joint venture between STMicroelectronics and NXP Semiconductors will grab orders from Nokia, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. The joint venture will also include a design team from Nokia, that STMicroelectronics acquired previously.

MediaTek is looking to enter competition in the 3G handset chipset market, and the market should become more interesting next year.


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