ABI Research Reports Qualcomm Maintains Clear Leadership in the LTE Baseband Market with 65% Share but Faces Mounting Captive Market Competition

19 Feb 2016

In its latest quarterly IC market tracker, ABI Research, the leader in transformative technology innovation market intelligence, finds Qualcomm remains the undeniable leader in LTE basebands as is evident with the staggering 65% market share the company scored in 2015.

“Although in recent quarters Qualcomm began to lose market share, the company continues to be the LTE baseband supplier of choice for the majority of device vendors,” says Malik Saadi, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research. “This is primarily due to the company’s strong LTE product portfolio and roadmap, which enables clients to bring high-throughput and advanced access features to their devices at competitive price points.”

LTE baseband shipments grew 22% quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2015, reaching more than 323 million units. During this timeframe, Qualcomm held the lion volume share at 63%. Samsung ranked second in terms of greatest volume share, holding 12%. This can be attributed to the company’s recent decision to exclusively ship its own LTE baseband on its mainstream, flagship smartphones, including its Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, and Galaxy Note5. Huawei’s HiSilicon and MediaTek tied for third place with 9% market share each. 

MediaTek is a relatively new entrant to the LTE space, only starting to ship large volumes of LTE chips in the second half of 2014. Even still, the company managed to ship more than 140 million LTE basebands since it launched its first LTE chip in late 2013. However, the company is lagging behind in terms of supporting LTE Carrier Aggregation (CA) technology, though. In theory, this technology enables operators to offer higher mobile access speeds exceeding 100Mbps.

MediaTek only managed to ship less than 6 million LTE CA chips in the fourth quarter of 2015, holding a tiny market share of 3.5% in this segment. During the same period and within this particular market segment, Qualcomm still held the greatest market share at 59%. Samsung followed with 21% and Huawei’s HiSilicon trailed behind that with 14% market share.

“Qualcomm is increasingly facing challenges in the LTE CA market, but interestingly, the competition is not coming from the traditional chipset supplier rivals, such as MediaTek or Spreadtrum,” concludes Saadi. “The competition is stemming from Qualcomm’s own clients, such as Huawei and Samsung, which increasingly deploy their own LTE chips for powering own flagship devices.”

These findings are part of ABI Research’s LTE & 5G Service, which includes research reports, market data, insights, and competitive assessments.

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