I was a little surprised by this report that has Skyworks surpassing RFMD in market share but Strategy Analytics announced that Skyworks has managed to gain the number one position for cellphone PAs according to their research. The rapid growth of handsets has pushed the PA market to $2 billion per year with Skyworks and RFMD relying on the majority of their revenues from this market despite diversification efforts. Both firms and their competitors have invested heavily in new PA products and technologies to meet the demands of the cellphone OEMs for ever more bands, higher data rates, higher efficiency and lower PA prices.
Christopher Taylor, Director of the RF and Wireless Components, commented, "The transition from the frenetic demand in the first half of 2008 to a severely depressed Q4 caught many PA suppliers off guard. PAs for mid-priced handsets took the brunt of the slump, and so suppliers with high share in PAs for low-cost handsets and PAs for higher-end 3G handsets fared better than suppliers with broad portfolios at all price and performance points. Both Skyworks and RFMD ended the year with close to one-third of the market, but Skyworks edged slightly ahead of RFMD."
Compound semiconductor-based PAs will continue as the enabling technology for the high-growth 3G and emerging 4G markets according to Strategy Analytics. However, silicon-based PAs have started to gain traction in low-cost handsets, as evidenced by the recent acquisition of CMOS PA supplier Axiom Micro Devices by Skyworks. This acquisition should help Skyworks compete in this market so they appear to be positioned well for the near future.