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20 August 2007


Handset advances to drive RF semiconductor market

The report 'World Handset RF Semiconductor Markets' from Frost & Sullivan reckons that the RF transceiver segment generated the most revenue in 2006, totaling $3.045bn, and should reach $5.95bn in 2010.

“Mobile handsets have evolved rapidly, from a simple and voice-only device to a sophisticated device that supports voice, high-speed data, and other applications such as global positioning system (GPS) and Bluetooth,” says research analyst Gokul Ramanujam. “The adoption of 3G (third-generation) technology has also aided handset and RF semiconductor manufacturers, with 3G phones requiring a design with higher complexity,” he adds.

Handset RF semiconductor markets continue to progress steadily, with most segments showing significant growth, mainly due to high volume shipments of mobile handsets over the last few years. In particular, the continued rise in mobile phone penetration in developing countries such as India and China has created many opportunities for handset makers, driving the market for handset RF semiconductors. With 2.75G yet to take off and the deployment of 3G in the pipeline, the market in these countries will likely thrive in the next few years.

Moreover, with fourth-generation technology (4G) and 3G long-term evolution (LTE) in the developmental stages, the RF semiconductors market will likely grow exponentially in the future, Frost & Sullivan reckons.

However, the evolution of the mobile phone to a multi-dimensional device has exerted enormous pressure on both handset makers and RF semiconductor suppliers to pack in as many functions as possible in the limited front-end space. To stay in line with board space constraints and consumer demand, an emphasis on reduced component count, form factor, and bill of materials (BoM) represents a key trend in the market.

“To enable this scenario, the kind of scaling proposed by Moore’s Law would be ideal, but is not realistically possible in all cases,” says Ramanujam. “A balance of all factors such as reduced component count, combined with cost effectiveness, is likely to assist RF semiconductor manufacturers in revenue generation."

The transition to integration has affected the market for discrete component manufacturers by reducing profits. Companies with a diverse product line and the skill to integrate discrete components into modules will be more likely to succeed, predicts Frost & Sullivan.

See related items:

RFMD, Skyworks and Triquint grew GaAs device market share to 55% in 2006

Global cell phone shipments show slight increase, as Samsung grabs second largest vendor title from Motorola

RFMD and Skyworks gain share in handset PAs: further consolidation likely