Recent research says wireless connectivity ICs totaled more than $8 billion in 2011 and will produce revenues close to $40 billion for Bluetooth, near-field communications (NFC), Wi-Fi, GPS and combo ICs through 2016.

According to ABI Research, Broadcom continues to dominate, owning 30 percent of the worldwide connectivity IC shipment volume due to its success in the rapidly growing combo IC market. Qualcomm’s market share reached almost 20 percent, due to its strength in the GPS market, the group says. CSR, with its acquisition of SiRF technologies, still is a “major presence” in the worldwide market, despite losing its leading position in the Bluetooth space. Texas Instruments is in fourth position, narrowly behind CSR with a 10-percent share.

“The overall market saw strong growth in 2011,” says Peter Cooney, practice director/Semiconductors. “Attach rates for all technologies are increasing, leading to combo IC growth. The next challenge for IC vendors is integration into higher level SoCs.”

Mergers and acquisitions continue to shape the market, ABI adds. Qualcomm’s purchase of Atheros “significantly improved” that company’s wireless-connectivity offering, and “it is in excellent position to control the integrated platform SoC market it is developing to serve the burgeoning low to mid-end smartphone and media tablet markets,” ABI notes.

“If Qualcomm’s S4 platform dominates this market with integrated Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, it is likely to be an increasing threat to the other suppliers such as Broadcom, CSR and TI,” Cooney concludes.

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