Avago Looks to Mobile
Phones"> Avago ranks itself second in fiber-optic transceivers, a market chased by Intel and others in anticipation of the day that the photon will work hand in hand with the electron to transfer information. The company also ranks among the top three in LEDs and printer ASICs, according to company executives. In August, however, Agilent sold its stake in LED lighting subsidiary Lumileds to partner Royal Philips Electronics for approximately $1 billion in cash, plus $50 million in debt.In searching out partners, however, Chang said the emphasis was on partners with "clean IP," to avoid the possibility of patent suits farther down the road. Click here to read about Japanese chip makers joining to build a plant. In January, researcher Shuji Nakamura won a suit involving blue LEDs against Nichi Corp., worth about 1.5 billion yen ($12.5 million). Meanwhile, Super Vision International and its LED Alliance group of companies have sued and are being sued by Color Kinetics over LED intellectual property. Avago is also eying the mobile phone. Although the company doesnt manufacture the high-profile radio chips or microprocessors that form the heart of the mobile phone, the company designs filters and modules to reduce power, color chip LEDs and CMOS sensors. In addition, Avago designs value-added products like proximity sensors to automate speakerphones, position sensors to aid focusing within camera phones and ambient light photo sensors to automatically dim the display when needed, conserving battery life. "We used to say historically, depending on phone, that we represented about $8 in the bill of materials," said Jeff Henderson, executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing. "Its a truism, but thats going to vary by the type of phone out there. The reality is that in most of the phones, youll see us in RF front ends; in power modulesthese show upand in color LEDsthese still show up. "[In] Asia and Korea in particular youll see a higher dollar content, with position sensors, even ambient light sensors in Korea." Market spinoffs trim the fat, helping the new firm become lighter on its feet, one analyst said. "What first comes to mind is when Motorola spun off its semiconductor group to form Freescale," said Jim Feldhan, president of Semico Research. "Freescale became more reactive to the market. Motorola supplies chips to other companies, but its not conceivable that they would supply chips to their competitors." Likewise, Avago will be able to sell ASICs to Oki or Canon," Feldhan said. "From that standpoint, theres more opportunity." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
Although the Lumiled and Avago/Agilent teams worked closely together, Avago plans to partner with other firms to bolster its LED business and develop products like LED flashbulbs for digital cameras.