Electronic book readers and media tablets definitely became a phenomenon of 2010. With tens of millions units sold, they did not only become new types of mainstream computing devices, but also catalyzed massive sales of various components that are used inside them. According to IDC, the market of various chips for e-book readers and tablets will continue to grow from $3.3 billion in 2010.
Worldwide revenues for media tablet and e-book reader semiconductors grew over 2000% to $3.3 billion in 2010 as semiconductor suppliers enabled original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bring new products to market less than 8 months after the iPad launched, according to the latest consumer semiconductor study from International Data Corp. (IDC). With the arrival of Android Honeycomb, dual core processors, and increased bandwidth, IDC expects Media Tablet and e-book reader semiconductor revenues to grow by 120% year over year in 2011.
"The opportunity for semiconductors in media tablets and e-book readers has exploded and semiconductor suppliers are scrambling to bring to market semiconductor and software platforms to enable these products. Beyond semiconductors, these suppliers are also providing OEMs with much of the system software as well as support for access into app stores, which is helping to dramatically shorten product design cycles," said Michael J. Palma, research manager for consumer semiconductor research at IDC.
Tablets are defined by their connectivity, user interface, and battery life. Semiconductor firms provide the technology to enable these features, with touchscreen controllers and sensors providing the rich user experience; baseband modems, WiFi chipsets, and related integrated circuits (ICs) providing connectivity; specialized semiconductors managing the battery life; and the overall device managed by application processors (APUs).
At 99% share of APU shipments, the ARM processor architecture dominated this market in 2010 and is expected to lose only a few points in 2011 as the MIPs and x86 architectures struggle for a role in the market.
Media tablets and e-book readers are two devices that share components but whose bills of materials (BOM) are optimized for very different functions. The 2010 average tablet semiconductor BOM was nearly one and one half times as much as the BOM for e-book readers.
Storage and memory ICs accounted for 40% of the semiconductor revenue opportunity in 2010, but falling prices for Flash and DRAM will drive system BOM cost reductions through 2015, leading these components' share of semiconductor costs to fall nearly in half over the forecast period.
The appeal of media tablets will drive the semiconductor revenue opportunity to a five year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31%.
"For the next several years, we will see rapid innovation cycles for products launched into the marketplace and semiconductor suppliers will continue to satisfy evolving end user requirements over the coming years," added Mr. Palma.