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Semiconductors / Integrated Circuits

Freescale Sees Growth in Smart Mobile Devices

December 15, 2009
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Silicon leadership in smartbook, eBook reader, smartphone and other spaces provides growth opportunities for Freescale

AUSTIN, Texas – Dec. 15, 2009 – Consumer demand for faster, sleeker, longer-playing mobile devices has helped Freescale Semiconductor establish early leadership in the smart mobile devices category – a fast growing market segment that includes smartbooks, eBook readers, smartphones and other mobile consumer products.

The continuing shift from fixed computing platforms to mobile devices has dramatically expanded the number of intelligent devices worldwide and established tremendous business opportunities for Freescale. In less than a year, Freescale has helped pioneer the smartbook category, extended its lead in the exploding eBook reader market and launched a number of compelling consumer products.

This momentum is largely based on the strength of Freescale’s broad portfolio of embedded processors, sensors, dedicated software and power management integrated circuits (ICs). In 2009 to date, the company has shipped more than 90 million ICs to manufacturers of smart mobile devices.

One of the most popular eBook reader products available today is a good example of the opportunities smart mobile devices provide. Freescale’s i.MX31 device is the main processor in the eBook reader, and the product also includes Freescale’s MC13783 power management IC and MMA7660 inertial sensor. Other mobile connected devices similarly pair Freescale processors with the company’s sensor, power management, and audio codec technologies. By providing comprehensive solutions, the company helps customers innovate and speed time to market, while expanding Freescale’s footprint in the consumer electronics market.

“Even in a vibrant space like smart mobile devices, Freescale is growing faster than the market,” said Henri Richard, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing for Freescale. “Consumer electronics are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and this plays to Freescale’s traditional strengths of proven power management expertise, exceptional processing performance and outstanding price-to-performance ratios.”

Pioneering the smartbook
Among Freescale’s most promising consumer opportunities are smartbooks -- a new class of devices based on ARM® processor technology that combines attributes of smartphones and notebook PCs. Smartbooks feed consumer demand for low-cost, small form factor, long battery life devices that deliver Internet connectivity.

Soon after the emergence of the smartbook category in mid-2009, Freescale announced that the first end-product of the category, Sharp’s NetWalker mobile device, uses Freescale power management and i.MX applications processor technologies. Freescale is also now working with multiple OEMs on products for the smartbook market expected to launch and begin shipping in Q1 2010.

“There is clear and strong demand – especially from the consumer segment – for low-cost, connected mobile devices that combine the all-day battery life of a smartphone with larger, higher resolution screen sizes that comfortably support popular online activities,” said Jeff Orr, senior analyst with ABI Research. “Mobile processors that reduce power consumption while increasing the usability of the device are well positioned to intercept this market trend, and in the process drive growth for manufacturers while shaping the emerging smartbook segment.”

Freescale has established a broad smartbook ecosystem, including support for OS environments from Canonical, Google, Thundersoft and Xandros, as well as deep relationships with top ODMs such as Foxconn, Inventec, Kinpo, Pegatron, Quanta and Wistron. Freescale has further fostered the smartbook category by commissioning a world renowned industrial design program to explore future smartbook form factors.

eBook reader leadership
Also fueling Freescale’s momentum in the smart mobile devices category is the runaway success of eBook reader products. According to a recent forecast from market research firm iSuppli Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., the worldwide eBook market is expected to expand to more than 18 million units in 2012, up from 1.1 million in 2008.

“Amazon’s Kindle 2, which integrates Freescale's i.MX31 multimedia applications processor, is one of the major sales growth drivers in today’s eBook market,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, principal analyst with iSuppli Corp.

Freescale’s i.MX processor, analog audio, sensor and power management technologies deliver outstanding processing performance, energy efficiency and cost effectiveness to the world’s top eBook reader OEMs. In addition, Freescale’s business pipeline continues to grow thanks to strong demand from eBook reader OEMs in North America, Europe and Asia.

At the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, Freescale plans to showcase seven eBook reader products that utilize i.MX processors. In October 2009, Freescale and E Ink Corporation announced an agreement to jointly develop system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions that integrate Freescale’s i.MX processor technology with E Ink’s Vizplex® display controller. The partnership is intended to lower costs and expand the ecosystem of supporting electronics for the eBook reader market. The collaboration also is expected to spark innovation for emerging product categories such as eNewspapers, tablet PCs, laptop secondary displays, eNotebooks and eDictionaries.

Traction in domestic Chinese smartphone market
Freescale is also gaining momentum in the smartphone space within the growing domestic Chinese consumer market. Leveraging deep relationships with Chinese and Taiwanese ODMs and OEMs, Freescale has emerged as a leading supplier of applications processors to smartphone manufacturers such as Yulong, as they supply to millions of Chinese subscribers via the nation’s top mobile carriers.

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