During 2012, we saw Qualcomm, Nvidia, and even Samsung scrabble for a piece of the mobile processor market. This year seems to be a "clean sweep" for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600-series silicon, said one analyst.
According to Vijay Rakesh of the analyst firm Stene Agee, Qualcomm's 8960 processor faced stiff competition during 2012 from Nvidia's Tegra 3 — a processor that was heavily adopted at the time by HTC and LG for its handsets— and Samsung's own Exynos processor. However, fortunes at Qualcomm have changed with the release of the Snapdragon 600, with Samsung, HTC, and LG all increasing adoption. The losers here are Nvidia, which is having a hard time gaining traction with its Tegra 4i platform, and Samsung's own Exynos processor.
The Snapdragon 600-series' killer feature is that it offered 40 to 75 percent better performance compared to the 8960, while at the same time significantly slashing power consumption. It also simplified handset design by incorporating support for 4G long-term evolution (LTE), Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth, and FM radio.
'We believe Qualcomm will pick up significant smartphone share on multiple platforms into 2Q/June," said Rakesh in a statement to ZDNet. "There have been numerous reports that Qualcomm could supply up to 70 percent of the Galaxy S4s, supplying to both US and European S4 models versus only US on the prior S3 platform."
Rakesh said that the almost 100 million Samsung Galaxy S4 handsets reportedly having been pre-ordered will give Qualcomm a "good tailwind". Another piece of good news for Qualcomm will, according to Rakesh, be Apple's ramping up of production of the iPhone 5S — or whatever it ends up being called — toward the end of this year. While Qualcomm doesn't supply the processor for the iPhone — this is an Apple part manufactured by Samsung — the company does currently supply the RF transceiver, baseband processor, and power management chips. Rakesh expects Qualcomm to have an equally strong presence within the new iPhone.
It looks like it is going to be a good year for Qualcomm, so much so that Sterne Agee is raising its target price for Qualcomm from $74 to $75, while also raising the estimates for processors shipped during that quarter from 164.6 million to 171.8 million.