Mobile, Tablet Apps Processor Revenue Jumps in 2012

Qualcomm maintained its lead in the smartphone applications processor market in 2012, while Apple continued its dominance in the tablet market.

The global tablet applications processor market showed an impressive 83 percent year-on-year growth in 2012 to reach $2.7 billion, while the global smartphone applications processor market showed a robust 60 percent year-on-year growth in 2012 to reach $12.9 billion, according to two concurrent reports on the markets from IT research firm Strategy Analytics.

According to the smartphone report, Qualcomm maintained its lead in the smartphone applications processor market with 43 percent revenue share in 2012. Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors gained acceptance across multiple smartphone price tiers and helped Qualcomm to maintain its No. 1 spot. Apple ranked No. 2 with 16 percent revenue share in 2012, thanks to its in-house designed A series processors, which featured in popular smartphones including the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.

Samsung, MediaTek and Broadcom rounded out the top-five revenue share rankings in the smartphone applications processor market in 2012. Samsung’s No. 3 ranking, with 11 percent revenue share in 2012, was due in part to the company’s Exynos applications processors featured in high-profile devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and Note II.

Broadcom ranked No. 5 with the help of its Samsung relationship, where applications processors were featured in multiple low-end Android smartphones from Samsung in 2012. Nvidia’s Tegra shipments remained relatively flat growth in 2012 compared to 2011, while Intel, the PC microprocessor giant, grabbed just 0.2 percent revenue share in the smartphone applications processor market in 2012.

"Qualcomm continued its dominance in the smartphone applications processor market with 43 percent revenue share in 2012. Qualcomm strongly participated in the high-end market in 2012 with its LTE Snapdragon processors and APQ series stand-alone processors,” senior analyst Sravan Kundojjala said in a statement. “Strategy Analytics believes that the year 2012 saw Qualcomm's rise as a high-end player in the smartphone applications processor market, thanks to its in-house CPU and graphics technologies. The new Snapdragon 600 and 800 chips will help Qualcomm move further ahead of the competition."

Strategy Analytics notes that Apple continued its dominance in the tablet applications processor market with 48 percent revenue share in 2012. Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Samsung and Qualcomm made up the rest of the top-five vendors. Strategy Analytics identified that a handful of Chinese tablet chip vendors captured 20 percent volume share between them. The tablet report provides tablet applications processor unit shipments, revenues and average selling price (ASP) data for 14 chip vendors across stand-alone and integrated processor categories up to the second quarter of 2013.

"Nvidia led the non-iPad tablet market with 27 percent revenue share in 2012. Nvidia scored high-profile design-wins such as the Google Nexus 7 and Microsoft Surface RT, which fueled 83 percent year-on-year growth in its tablet applications processor shipments in 2012,” Kundojjala continued. “Strategy Analytics states that Nvidia is well-positioned to address the high-performance tablet market with its new Tegra 4 chip."

Another company analyst noted that their firm believes that Intel and Qualcomm missed the tablet boat in 2012, and estimate that Qualcomm and Intel together captured less than 5 percent volume share in the tablet applications processor market in 2012. "Strategy Analytics states that Intel and Qualcomm's tablet success hinges on Microsoft Windows tablet operating system's take off," Stuart Robinson, director of the Strategy Analytics handset component technologies service, said in a statement.