Similarly, Nvidia paid $367 million for modem chipset maker Icera, A UK based firm with more than 550 patents granted or pending, and product approval from over 50 carriers across the globe, while Renesas acquired Nokia’s baseband technology, saying it planned a major thrust into the LTE market.
The market for baseband processors is one of the fastest growing segments of the technology industry, worth an estimated $15 billion a year, according to market watchers.
“TI could always partner up with a player like Mediatek, or one of the big Asian carriers who has patents in the area - like Japanese NTT Docomo - but the market for acquisitions is getting pretty slim,” said McGregor explaining that after the major acquisition spree last year, most remaining baseband chip makers had been snapped up. “The only one possibly left is Sequans,” he said.
“Then again, there’s going to be some sort of fallout in the mobile market over the next couple of years,” said McGregor. “There are currently 24 vendors targeting handsets and there’s only really room for about 4. When that consolidation happens, there will be assets up for grabs,” he said.
Thus, while TI is certainly moving forward very competitively with OMAP, and will be first to market with an A15 chip targeting the high-end where baseband integration is currently less important, the firm may have to re-evaluate as the lower-end integration trend comes more into play. Especially as combo chips like Qualcomm’s upcoming 8960 make their way to market sporting not just 3G but TDD FDD LTE, wifi and Bluetooth to boot.
“It’s certainly going to make things harder for TI, not having baseband going forward, because it is a differentiator for handsets,” McGregor concluded.