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Electronics Production | March 11, 2011

Qualcomm & Nvidia: Major players in the tablet and smartphone market

All the launched and soon-to-be launched Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablets are powered with Nvidia Tegra 2. New tablets from Motorola, Samsung, LG, Asus, MSI, Acer, etc. shared this similar design, established Nvidia Tegra 2 as a major presence in the tablet market. On the other hand, ...

Qualcomm did not stand out in the tablet market. Yet Qualcomm maintains a definite market share among the most advanced Smartphones with its prominent Snapdragon line. Qualcomm had previously lacked in the Wi-Fi product range, and Smartphone using Qualcomm chipset noticeably showed higher power consumption and lower connectivity while connecting to Wi-Fi internet access. In 2011 January, Qualcomm acquired Atheros, a company known for its technology in developing Wi-Fi chips. The industry expects the complementary merger to take Qualcomm a step closer to the Wi-Fi chip leader, Broadcomm. According to SmartMobix, Qualcomm will likely to launch Wi-Fi capable chipsets in April, 2011. The 4th generation chipset will be scheduled for mass production using the 28nm process technology during 3Q/2011. Qualcomm will challenge Nvidia’s position in the non-iPad tablet market for three foreseeable advantages: the reduced price, improved Wi-Fi connectivity and telecommunication (3G, 4G) module integration and cost advantage. However, Qualcomm charges Smartphone makers an authorization fee (up to USD 1 million) for the technology used in 3G, 3.5G, 4G LTE modules integration. The added fee on the Wi-Fi only product line still depends on Qualcomm’s future pricing strategy. Therefore, Nvidia Tegra 2 was primarily adopted for launches of Android tablets in 2Q/2011, providing the renown GeForce 3D graphic capability and without charging extra fees. Other than that, Nvidia provides a total solution to Smartphone makers, for a relatively small sum of money, makers adopting Nvidia Tegra 2 can purchase the use of its official drivers. At the same time, Google Android 3.0 developers have optimized the operating system to adopt Tegra 2 for a smooth operation. Tegra 3 will meet face to face with Qualcomm’s new chipset representing the landscape in Q3 and Q4 of 2011. Finally, Qualcomm’s new chipset might best suit in capturing greater market share in the Smartphone market. After all, its advantages of low power consumption and advanced telecommunication module integration in 3G, 3.5G and 4G LTE will not be challenge by Nvidia in the short-run and its 4th generation dual core Snapdragon processor might still have a chance in becoming another mainstream tablet processor in the next generation tablet PCs.
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