The global cellular baseband processor market grew 9% year over year to reach US$5.2 billion in the first quarter of 2020, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics on Friday.
5G baseband shipments powered the growth, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and weak seasonal demand, the firm said.
5G baseband accounted for near 10% of total baseband shipments in the quarter, but captured almost 30% of total baseband revenues. It was also a rise of 8% year over year based on shipment while an increase of 22% from a year ago based on sales.
From last year’s total, 5G baseband accounted for 2% based on shipment and 8% based on revenue.
US chip giant Qualcomm was leading the pack and its 5G baseband shipment for the first quarter was larger than its last year’s total, Strategy Analytics said. Smartphone giants Samsung Electronics, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo all used Qualcomm’s 5G modem for their flagship smartphones launched this year.
Qualcomm cemented its leadership from the launch of its second-generation 5G chips such as X55 modem and Snapdragon 765 System-on-a-Chip (SoC), the research firm said.
Last year, the US chip giant controlled 53% market share in 5G baseband sales. Strategy Analytics noted that Qualcomm controlled over 90% market share in the early stages of 4G but for 5G its was competing fiercely with followers.
HiSilicon, MediaTek, Intel and Samsung LSI featured in the top-five cellular baseband processor revenue share rankings in the first quarter, following Qualcomm.
Qualcomm controlled 42% revenue share in the first quarter, followed by HiSilicon with 20% and MediaTek with 14%.
HiSilicon and Samsung LSI performed well in the quarter, the firm said. Samsung LSI’s efforts to expand beyond Samsung Mobile shown “fruitful results” as its 5G chip adoption by Vivo progressed well during the quarter. Samsung LSI’s ability to sustain its merchant 5G chip ambition remains to be seen, Strategy Analytics added.
Meanwhile, MediaTek continued its recovery and gained share in 4G LTE basebands with the help of its Helio P, A and G range of 4G chips, the research firm said. The company’s Dimensity-branded 5G chips also performed well in the quarter. It was well-positioned to gain share at Huawei for now in the wake of restrictions on Huawei’s chip unit’s ability to manufacture chips at TSMC due to US sanctions, the research firm also said.
Back in March, Huawei has said even if US sanctions worsen, it could still use chips from Samsung, MediaTek or Unisoc for its smartphones.
Chinese research firm CINNO Research, meanwhile, said HiSilicon surpassed Qualcomm in SoC shipment in China in the first quarter. HiSilicon had 43.9% market share, followed by Qualcomm’s 32.8% and MediaTek’s 13.8%. In the first quarter of 2019, Qualcomm had 48.1%, followed by HiSilicon’s 24.3% and MediaTek’s 19%.