Texas Instruments, makers of the famous OMAP line of processors, have been saying for a while now that they’re tired of keeping up with the big boys of the mobile industry. It used to be they could design a chip that would then be used in various products for several years. These days, it’s expected that companies launch a new device every 12 months, and that said device uses a chip that’s more advanced than the one in last year’s model. Today’s news shouldn’t come as a surprise then, TI is announcing that they’re going to let 1,700 people go. What’s going to happen to OMAP? It’s going to be rejiggered for what’s known as the embedded market. Think cars, networking equipment, point of sale systems, and other such products where it’s more important to have a bulletproof chip that’s well supported versus something that’s just the latest flavor of the month.
Is this a huge loss? Not really. As we pointed out yesterday, Qualcomm recently overtook Intel in terms of market capitalization, which means the Snapdragon product family is doing outstanding. Then there’s Samsung, who shipped 4 out of every 10 Android smartphones in Q3 2012. The higher end devices use the company’s own Exynos chips, while the lower end models rely on solutions from Broadcom.
Back to Intel for a second, that’s the company you should really be watching out for in 2013 and beyond. After years and years of empty promises, they finally managed to make a chip that could fit inside a smartphone: the Motorola RAZR i. It’s fast, it has excellent battery life, it’s almost perfect, save for the fact that it doesn’t have 4G LTE. Intel will fix that next year.
And as for NVIDIA … we’re eagerly anticipating “Grey”, their processor that comes with an integrated cellular radio. We just can’t take them seriously until that part starts shipping.
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Is this a huge loss? Yes! Competition is always good, it drives development forward. The OMAP4 has been a brilliant CPU, it is used in several LG and Motorola devices plus the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0 and 10.1), several devices by SmartQ, the Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD, the Kobo Arc and the Nook HD.