Friday, April 25, 2008
[Originally for Sramana Mitra's site]
In the last two parts of this series, we looked at Marvell’s position and strategy in the wireless connectivity solutions market. These solutions serve another important purpose - to make Marvell’s cellular and handheld products competitive and complete. In this part, we will take a look at whether Marvell can successfully leverage its acquisition of Intel’s XScale business to create another line of business that will see the 20% growth that the management envisions.
Marvell offers the Monahan family of application processors based on the XScale architecture. It also offers baseband communication processors that are capable of GSM, GPRS, EDGE and WCDMA. Its solutions are part of the Motorola Q, Motorola ROKR2 and RIM Blackberry Pearl among other phones. Another notable product is the Samsung i780 that features its PXA310 application processor with Qualcomm’s MSM6200.
Marvell today commands about 25% of the mobile application processor market next to TI, but does not have as much of a play in the baseband market. The Santa Clara-based company sampled an integrated single-chip solution with HSDPA data capabilities and an application processor last year. Marvell hopes to see ramped up volume production and revenue in the second half of this year.
‘Tavor’, as this single-chip solution is code-named, will hold the key to Marvell’s ability to retain the RIMM account moving forward. Moving forward, Marvell hopes to grow with RIMM that commands around 50% of the smart-phone market share. This will be contingent on RIMM retaining its market share and also Marvell delivering competitive baseband solutions. You can read about competing baseband solutions here. ‘Tavor’ will also help Marvell retain its application processor market share as competitors move towards similar single-chip solutions.
Marvell also aims to bring smart-phones into low-cost mainstream leveraging its core competencies. CEO Sehat’s comments on the company’s GPS strategy further ratify this line of thought. The ASUS 3G smart-phones branded as Vodafone 1210, which use Marvell’s communication and application processors, is a good example. The synergy in this relationship comes from the fact that both Marvell and ASUS are committed to low-cost products. (Incidentally, this low-cost philosophy is one solution to bring the convergence movement to the emerging markets. You can view this as complementary to the elitist band of phones from Apple, RIMM or Palm like Ms. Mitra points out in her recent post here.)
At the moment, Marvell is relatively behind the leading chipset vendors in its development efforts. It may hence not get a favorable look from existing handset vendors as it seeks a meaningful baseband communication processor market share that will justify its XScale acquisition. However, it will look to establish new relationships (like ASUS) to grow with its customers’ market share gains. Much like Broadcom, Marvell has a good relationship with PC/laptop vendors like Dell. This positions the company to understand and help these vendors enter the mobile space should they decide to. Bolstered by stable application processor sales, this risky strategy has huge upsides with relatively minor downsides.