Monday, January 21, 2013

MediaTekifikation. For those in the handset business who still haven't heard of MediaTek, it may soon be time to meet your maker.

Many people I speak with in the wireless industry have still never heard of MTK. To me, that's like meeting a kid who has never heard of Lego's.

Stories for your consideration:
MediaTek & OmniVision tie-up for ADVANCED SMARTPHONE IMAGING >>
Forbes: More Americans Learn About Taiwan's Amazing MediaTek >>
Taipei Times: MediaTek’s chips transforming China’s smartphone market >>

...some thought continuation from my post about the "Chinafication" of the global handset industry:

Back in early 2008, in an internal report I wrote for Nokia management, I noted that a Chinese handset vendor named Tianyu had become a top-10 global brand. Even though I followed the industry closely, I had never heard of Tianyu before this. I decided to highlight the potential competitive threat of local vendors such as Tianyu who could appear out of nowhere in short order in vital growth markets.

I received some immediate feedback about my observations from one manager based out of Nokia's Beijing office: "Forget Tianyu: the company to really keep an eye on is MediaTek." That was a great tip.

Taiwan-based MediaTek may not be a direct competitor to smartphone vendors, but the company is an enabler of increased competition, lowering barriers to entry to the handset market. MediaTek offers complete chipset and software solutions allowing anybody with the desire to enter the handset business. It is MediaTek which enabled many of the "shanzhai" players to beat major vendors such as Nokia, Samsung, and Motorola to market with what appeared to be very similar-looking feature phones with risible brand names such as "Nokla" and "Sansung."

About two years ago, MediaTek announced their intentions of entering the market for smartphone ARM-based chipset solutions. The impact has been enormous: last year more than 110 million Chinese smartphones were based on MTK chipset solutions. This is greater than Qualcomm's market share in China.

MediaTek now offers solutions for both the higher-end of the smartphone market (quad-core) as continuing to enable very low-cost Android-based devices.

MTK has found its place in the mobile value chain. There are times when you shouldn't just look sideways to find your emerging competition, but at the bottom of the stack.

MediaTek's MT6575 optimized for low-cost Android 4 smartphones:

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