Broadcom breaks into top five for smartphone chip suppliers

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Broadcom is now one of the top five suppliers of chips for smartphones, according to a third quarter report by market research firm Strategy Analytics.

The Irvine, Calif.-based chip maker joins Qualcomm, Samsung, Texas Instruments and Marvell as one of the top five suppliers of smartphone applications processors in the third quarter. That’s a powerful group, since the apps processor market grew 59 percent from a year ago to $2.24 billion in sales in the third quarter.

Broadcom has been trying to break into the market for a while and replaced Nvidia in the top five. Broadcom’s share grew because of the ramp up of Android products at a major customer.

“We believe Broadcom’s management has now recognized the importance of smartphone apps processors and is likely to strengthen its efforts further in 2012,” Strategy Analytics said. In the long term, Broadcom has the chance to be a strong competitor to Qualcomm.

Qualcomm has the No. 1 spot, with almost 50 percent of the revenue in the third quarter. Qualcomm has a variety of products in its portfolio and strong relationships with phone makers. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors gained strong traction in the quarter and were featured in multiple popular smartphones.

Qualcomm integrates chips into single-chip systems, but it also offers stand-alone apps processors, where it has a 4.3 percent unit stake with its APQ8xxx Snapdragon chips. The APQ product line helped Qualcomm participate in the LTE smartphone market.

Samsung was No. 2 with its dual-core processors and No. 1 in the stand-alone apps processor category, where it has more than 70 percent share. The chips are used in phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Texas Instruments was No. 3 and showed improvement despite the weakness at its major customer, Nokia. Non-Nokia customers grew 65 percent compared to a year ago. Marvell diversified its base with its new TD-SCDMA smartphone processor.

At sixth place in units and fifth in revenue, Nvidia’s Tegra smartphones showed only modest sequential growth in the quarter.

Stand-alone apps processors are 40 percent of total smartphone apps processor shipments, up from 30 percent last year.

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