I will assume you already know that Apple Inc, the makers of the world’s most favourite pieces of consumer electronics, the iPhone and the iPad, do contract someone else to make for them their chips. That someone has for long been Korean electronics giant Samsung. Actually Samsung has been the sole (exclusive) supplier of the microprocessors used in iDevices since the first generation iPhone went on sale back in 2007. Last year, reports emerged that touted a similar arrangement by Apple with Taiwanese company TSMC. Just last week, the Wall Street Journal ran a story indicating that indeed TSMC was already delivering its first chips to Apple. Where does leave Samsung? In the wake of not so expected earnings as per the last financial reports, surely the company is in search of new business. Enter Qualcomm.
According to Korean site Yonhap, Samsung is expected to start making chips for Qualcomm soon. How soon? There are no details but this is pretty solid. Under the yet-to-be-announced arrangement, Samsung is expected to supply chips that follow the 14 nm process. That gives us room to speculate since Qualcomm’s current and upcoming top of the range Snapdragon chips are based on the 28 and 20 nm process so 14 nm process chips should be for the future. Say something like going into production from mid-2015 onwards. Interestingly, TSMC is Qualcomm’s current partner. It also makes a lot of sense as Qualcomm chips are currently in huge demand with them being the go-to chips for devices on platforms that are just starting to gain prominence like Windows Phone and of course Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips are very synonymous with the top of the range Android smartphones.
Thanks to its integration of 4G LTE radios in-chip, Qualcomm has been a favourite amongst the big name brands in mobile and has seen it amass a marketshare of at least 66% as per the latest numbers from Strategy Analytics. It’s competitors like MediaTek (which just announced its first 4G LTE-integrated chip the other day), Spectrum Communications, Marvell Technology and Intel follow distantly. MediaTek’s aggressive expansion strategy means a lot to established players like Qualcomm so it only makes sense for the company to look for someone who can keep up with the production of its highly on-demand mobile application processors before competitors eat into it.