Monday, July 6, 2009

Skyworks Passes RFMD in Market Share

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.

News from the Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum

The NFC Forum is a non-profit industry association just outside of Boston that advances the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. In early June the association introduced its target mark, a stylized letter "N" that enables consumers to easily locate embedded NFC tags.

The N-Mark indicates the spot where an NFC device can read an NFC tag to establish a connection. By holding an NFC-enabled device close to the N-Mark, consumers can "pick up" information stored on NFC tags embedded in everyday objects such as posters, bus stop signs, parking permits, street signs, medicines, magazine pages and food packaging.

Applications for NFC tags span a wide range of industries, including public transit, retail and healthcare. Examples include: downloading transit schedules, maps, film trailers, retail coupons, and cooking recipes from smart posters; ordering taxi service or meals via embedded tags on signs and menus; signing up for SMS retail offers at store displays; obtaining detailed prescription information or verifying drug authenticity by reading tags on prescription bottles; and many more. Consumers can perform all of these actions simply by touching an NFC-enabled device, such as a mobile phone, to the N-Mark.

"The ability to read information stored on embedded tags is one of NFC's essential capabilities, which also include enabling contactless payments and file transfers between devices," said Koichi Tagawa, chairman of the NFC Forum. "Because it marks the opening of a new world of information to consumers, the launch of the NFC Forum N-Mark is a key milestone in the global commercialization and promotion of NFC technology."

NFC tags are small, inexpensive and already available for purchase from commercial tag manufacturers, many of which are NFC Forum members. The tags can be applied easily to many surfaces, including posters, signs, business cards, magazines and product labels. NFC tags can be applied, for example, by business owners, advertising agencies, tag makers or media developers.

All tags must be readable by NFC-enabled devices implementing NFC Forum Types 1-4 Tag Operation Specifications. All applications must be compliant with the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) Technical Specification. To further support tag usage and deployment, the NFC Forum has created Record Type Definition (RTD) Technical Specifications for applications that include text, URI, and/or smart poster record types. These specifications are available for download free of charge from the NFC Forum website: Organizations may also create their own RTDs for other record types, as long as they conform to the RTD structure defined by the NFC RTD Technical Specification.