"Apple had about 48 percent revenue share of the tablet processor market in 2012, although clearly their devices are captive in the iPad. Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Samsung and Qualcomm made up Strategy Analytics' top-five ranking of vendors. Strategy Analytics reckons Nvidia led the non-iPad tablet market with 27 percent revenue share in 2012 having scored high-profile design wins in the Google Nexus 7 and the Microsoft Surface RT."
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London Calling: Did Allwinner outsell Intel, Qualcomm?
Peter Clarke, 5/8/2013 11:07 AM EDT
It may seem strange but Chinese chip vendor Allwinner Technologies Co. Ltd. (Zhuhai, China) probably sold more application processors for tablet computers in 2012 than Intel and Qualcomm put together.
The numbers for annual sales of smartphones and tablet computers are growing fast and we think we know who the winners are: the likes of Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcomm and so on, right? But Strategy Analytics is reporting an interesting snippet from its market research; that in 2012 Chinese vendors grabbed 20 percent volume share of the tablet application processor market between them. That's in a market that by value grew 83 percent year-on-year to reach $2.7 billion, the firm reckons. So even if those Chinese vendors were selling at the low-end of the pricing spectrum this is not chicken feed.
Sravann Kundojjala, senior analyst with Strategy Analytics, pointed out that the Chinese vendors are selling dual-core ARM chips at $4 or $5 and quad-cores at $8 or $9, less than half what Nvidia is selling its equivalent chips for and so probably the Chinese vendors, while significant in volume, do not yet have 10 percent of the market by value.
Strategy Analytics reckons Apple had about 48 percent revenue share of the tablet processor market in 2012, although clearly their devices are captive in the iPad. Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Samsung and Qualcomm made up Strategy Analytics' top-five ranking of vendors. Strategy Analytics reckons Nvidia led the non-iPad tablet market with 27 percent revenue share in 2012 having scored high-profile design wins in the Google Nexus 7 and the Microsoft Surface RT.
So who are these Chinese tablet processor vendors? Strategy Analytics would like you buy a $6,999 report to find out their take on it.
The Chinese are coming
But we can try and guess who might be on Strategy Analytics' list. It probably includes: Allwinner Technology, Rockchip, Amlogic, Infotmic, Ingenic, Hi-Silicon, NuFront. It may include Via Technologies Inc. – a long time vendor of x86 chips and more recently of ARM processors – although Via is based in Taipei, Taiwan, and so may or may not have been included in the Chinese category.
Hi-Silicon, which is effectively part of Huawei, may have won business with its parent, although it is equally possible that such captive sales could have been missed. Ingenic is MIPS licensee with a reputation for being one company that has figured out to make most Android apps run smoothly on MIPS. Nufront is one of our less likely contenders.
In fact we reckon that the first three names on our list – Allwinner, Rockchip and Amlogic – are probably responsible for more than half the Chinese supply of tablet processors in 2012. Allwinner clearly has the lion's share, according to supply chain checks made by my colleague Junko Yoshida; maybe nearly half the supply of Chinese tablet processors on its own. This would make it responsible for nearly 10 percent of the global supply by volume. The rest of the Chinese suppliers are part of a long list of much smaller suppliers. Interestingly in the previous year Rockchip was in a similar Chinese market-leading situation. The market changes and swings happen very fast in China.
Even more interesting is that Allwinner is therefore likely to have outsold Intel and Qualcomm put together. Strategy Analytics reckons Intel and Qualcomm missed the tablet processor boat in 2012 and captured less than 5 percent volume share in the tablet applications processor market. Stuart Robinson, director of the Strategy Analytics' handset component service, said that any success for these two in tablets will depend on Microsoft and whether its Windows tablet operating system can gain market acceptance.
Things can change rapidly in a fast-growing market but we suggest keeping an eye on Allwinner and its smaller competitors, Intel and Qualcomm.