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TI predicts market surge

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TI will also look to lower end devices to expand its mobile TV chip business. Solomon explained: "There are two things driving handsets these days. The cyclic replacement of all the existing 3bn handsets out there and the opening up of cellular to people in the world that have yet to buy handsets.

"The replacement market is where most of these phones are going, as operators try to differentiate their feature set with handset features. But even at the low end, where TI aims its LoCosto handsets, these devices need at least unicast video features. These are not the target for Hollywood, but these cheaper markets are targets today for video in devices that are under $40."

The interesting aspect of putting out a DVB-H service in a developing economy which has low quality, non-digital TV, is that it has the opportunity to become the de facto TV service for that country, watched as much on PCs as on handsets.

This is certainly the case in South Africa, which is expecting that townships will watch mobile TV using a PC as if it were a TV. The implication is that as the price comes down on Hollywood (bill of materials is under $10 now), it may well end up in handsets down in that price range, once those markets get broadcast video services, and also in other devices.

The big immediate target for TI is to win the Nokia DVB-H business, since the Finn is the prime contractor and handset supplier in about half of the global DVB-H trials and in some of the launched services. In the past Nokia would work the kinks out of a technology and then hand it over to a chip partner once the feature was ready to go into mass deployment, but is now sharing its chip partnerships more widely, and reducing its own input in order to save time and cost to market.

"The positives that we can take out of that strategy change is that Nokia is moving from custom to catalog chips. That means it will buy more off the shelf devices, which can also be sold to others such as Motorola or Samsung. That plays to our strength because with our OMAP applications architecture we can handle multiple protocols and codecs with the same device," said Solomon, putting a brave face on the loss of TI's near monopoly of Nokia baseband business.

Copyright © 2007, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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