MediaTek Backing Away From Flagship System-on-Chips
MediaTek have grown to become one of the world’s leading suppliers of smartphone and tablet System-on-Chips, although relatively few Western handsets are powered by a MediaTek chip. 2017’s flagship chipsets include the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Apple A11, Samsung Exynos 8895, HiSilicon Kirin 970 and MediaTek Helio X30. There have been dozens of flagship devices launched this year but only two use the MediaTek Helio X30. Almost every 2017 flagship device is powered by the Snapdragon 835. MediaTek have now announced to the source website, Gearburn, that they are to take “a bit of a break.”
Mediatek’s General Manager for International Sales, Finbarr Moynihan, explained that the company were moving away from flagship chipsets to concentrate on what he called “new premium” devices. He also explained that the Helio X30 was too high end for the company’s usual customer, the Chinese device manufacturers, which have concentrated their efforts on releasing mid-range devices. However, compared with competitor chipsets, the Helio X30 did not offer the necessary modem technologies. From the sounds of it, MediaTek won’t try to compete with the latest and greatest Snapdragon chipset for the next year or two. However, it seems the company isn’t exactly sure what it will concentrate on instead as it hasn’t decided how to brand its next generation of products.
It is a sensible development for MediaTek to back out of the high end market and it sells its low and mid-range chipsets by the millions. These chips are a staple component of many devices. Qualcomm may have the flagship chipset market, but has made noises over the last eighteen months of so that it is diversifying its business away from device chipsets, as margins are increasingly being squeezed by intense competition. Ultimately, Qualcomm needs to be pushed to develop better chipsets, and Apple do a great job of pushing Qualcomm to improve the high end chipsets (but a terrible job at pushing the modem). MediaTek do a great job of pushing the mid-range market, so this change in strategy probably won’t change much in the short term. However, MediaTek will need to decide how to tackle the market going forward.