Texas Instruments “Shift of Focus” (Read: ABANDON SHIP!)
Yesterday news surfaced across the web, which we found thanks to XDA Recognized Contributor evil_penguin, that Texas Instruments was going to “reduce their efforts” on the production and development of their not-so-popular-anymore OMAP chipsets. This report by Reuters sent a shockwave across the mobile world as one of the big chip manufacturers was thinking about getting up and leaving the market to pursue other more lucrative opportunities in other up and coming markets such as automotive and industrial applications. However, today they released a statement saying that they are not actually killing the platform, and in fact, they are working towards releasing the long awaited 5th generation OMAP chipsets, which boast the powerful Cortex A15 processor. Reports of this kind are hardly ever unfounded however, and there is good, strong reason to believe that this came out to light because someone essentially blew the whistle.
The response that was released by the chip manufacturer and published by GSMArena regarding the continued development efforts on the platform is a classical diffusive PR response to keep investors happy, since a move like that could easily send TI shares plunging into a downward spiral, which is a very, very bad thing for the company. Moreover, regardless of how much market share they posses when it comes to the mobile devices segment (including tablets and phones), it would be a very bad tactic to announce something like that as competitors (Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, etc) could easily use this as an opportunity to go to manufacturers asking them, “Are you sure you want to continue using a platform about to go under?” Definitely a bad move for business.
Now, lets analyze their statement a little bit more in depth. The shift in focus being quoted refers to a reallocation of resources to push development in certain areas a little more. For example, as mobile technology gains more root into our every day lives, the company likely is trying to tap into this booming market. Just imagine having the kind of power of a PC or even today’s tablets and smartphones on your car dash board. This is what TI is allegedly aiming for, and of course other markets of interest such as manufacturing environments where mobile computing (particularly for large factories) is an absolute must and can be widely used for things such as Q&A, production, and inventory practices. Certainly appealing markets, and definitely profitable, right? Well, yes but there are always two reasons for making a move like this and both of them relate to money. On one side, you still make a pretty penny on a new market, but on the other side you are losing your socks off on the other.
The latter of the two is what likely triggered this “leaked statement” from TI. Currently, the smartphone and tablet market is dominated by Apple (with their iOS devices) and Samsung (mostly with Android phones and tablets). Apple designs their own chipsets (A4, A5, etc), and Samsung has their own chipsets as well (Exynos, Hummingbird, etc). So, right there, about 50-60 percent of the market is already gone. Next up, you have HTC, Sony, and the rest of the Android device manufacturer gang. For the most part, HTC uses Qualcomm Snapdragon series of processors and the same goes for Sony and a few others. So, there goes another 10-20 percent of the market. Asus (which somewhat dominates the tablet market) uses Nvidia Tegra (also present in some of the HTC One series as well). Another 10 percent or so goes flying out of the window, and speaking of which… next up comes Microsoft’s Windows Phone series. Now, mind you that Windows enabled devices have always used either Intel XScale processors or TI OMAPs (all the way to the Vogue and the Kaiser, which is roughly when the Qualcomm was introduced to the WM lines). There are, however, a few Windows Phone devices that still carry OMAPs, but it is easy to see that Windows devices have also drifted away from the platform. Amazon’s and B&N Android powered e-Readers are likely about the only popular devices left that are powered by the current OMAP series. And just to put the cherry on top, guess who is making a comeback into the world of mobile chipsets? Yes, you guessed it…. Intel, which has been said to be in the process of developing a new platform for mobile devices that is far more energy efficient than anything currently available on the market (I know, typical sales pitch). So, having said all this, we see a MAJOR dominance of the market by other manufacturers and the impending return of one of the largest chip manufacturers in the world. Still wondering if it is a profitable venture to continue? I do believe in niche markets where you can easily survive by providing something that is a little more unique than the competition, unfortunately this is not the case with TI. They are being overrun in sales by their competitors, who seem to be offering much more complete packages with integrated on-board radios such as LTE, whereas the OMAP series requires anyone willing to add radios to use a different chip, thus increasing manufacturing and design costs.
The only real shame about all this (from our little-world perspective) is the fact that TI is relatively developer friendly in the sense that their documentation is not always closed source as Nvidia’s (despite their recent change of heart which came after Dr Torvalds’ convincing “message”). But unfortunately, and as much as it pains me to say this, developers and people who could actually benefit from these things do not really represent the missing 60% of the market that they would likely need to reconsider their position. That segment is dominated by Apple (/runs and hides for cover).
So, summing up. TI will release the OMAP 5 soon (likely beginning of next year), but make no mistake that it could very well be the last iteration of that series of chips to ever come out of the Texas based company. You can expect to see more of them in other things, but definitely do not expect to see them in the mobile industry for much longer as that part of their business section seems to be going under. Who knows? Maybe we should consider hacking cars once they make the shift completely….
Thanks for reading.
So no more OMAP chip!!!!
I wonder what next nexus will have than ??
[Thanks xHausx for the tip]