Taiwan-based integrated circuit designer MediaTek Inc has gone past its American rival Qualcomm to become the largest smartphone chip supplier worldwide in the third quarter of this year. More than 100 million smartphones were sold globally with MediaTek chipsets in Q3 2020.
MediaTek managed to take a 31 percent share of the global smartphone chip market in the July-September period, while Qualcomm had only 29 percent.
According to a report from Counterpoint Technology Market Research, MediaTek made a strong performance in the $100-$250 price range in the smartphone chip market, Counterpoint said.
The Taiwanese firm benefited from sales growth in markets such as China and India.
Counterpoint’s Research Director Dale Gai said “the share of MediaTek chipsets in Xiaomi has increased by more than three times since the same period last year. MediaTek was also able to leverage the gap created due to the US ban on Huawei. Affordable MediaTek chips fabricated by TSMC became the first option for many OEMs to quickly fill the gap left by Huawei’s absence. Huawei had also previously purchased a significant amount of chipsets ahead of the ban.”
Qualcomm tops in the 5G segment
Meanwhile, Qualcomm was the biggest 5G chipset vendor in Q3 2020. It powered 39% of the 5G phones sold worldwide. The demand for 5G smartphones doubled – 17% of all smartphones sold in Q3 2020 were 5G. This impressive growth trajectory is going to continue, more so with Apple launching its 5G line-up. One-third of all smartphones shipped in Q4 2020 are expected to be 5G enabled.
Gai said Qualcomm performed well in the high-end smartphone chip segment in the third quarter.
“However, Qualcomm faced competition from MediaTek in the midrange segment. We believe that both will continue to compete intensively through aggressive pricing and mainstream 5G SoC (system on a chip) products into 2021,” Gai said.
Counterpoint said that since about one-third of all smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2020 are expected to be 5G-enabled, there is still a chance for Qualcomm to take back the top post in the quarter.
More demand for powerful processors in future
Commenting on the growth strategies of Qualcomm and MediaTek, Research Analyst Ankit Malhotra said, “Qualcomm and MediaTek have both reshuffled their portfolios, and consumer focus has played a key role here. Last year, MediaTek launched a new gaming-based G-series, while Dimensity chipsets have helped in bringing 5G to affordable categories. The world’s cheapest 5G device, the Realme V3, is powered by MediaTek.”
HiSilicon Technologies, Huawei’s IC design subsidiary, took a 12 percent share to rank as the third-largest smartphone chip supplier.
Samsung took a 12 percent share in the third quarter, down from 16 percent a year earlier, while Apple also secured 12 percent, up one percentage point from a year earlier.
Going forward, Counterpoint says, the immediate focus of chipset vendors will be to bring 5G to the public, which will then unlock the potential of consumer 5G use cases like cloud gaming, which in turn will lead to higher demand for higher clocked GPUs and more powerful processors.