Sat, Jan 15, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Nation's chipmakers pose challenge to Japan: report

SURGING SUPPLIES Led by MediaTek, which last year became the No. 1 supplier of chips for DVD players, Taiwanese chipmakers are coming on strong

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's chipmakers are on the rise in some key areas of the market for consumer-electronics semiconductors, posing challenges to major Japanese suppliers that are dominating the sector, according to research house iSuppli Corp.

"The entry of Taiwanese Original Design Manufacturers [ODMs] is reshaping the consumer-electronics landscape, allowing new competitors to enter the market in competition with the traditionally-dominant Japanese players," the El Segundo, California-based research institute said in a report released yesterday.

"These ODMs use their own supply chains, which are distinct from the internal sources employed by the vertically-integrated Japanese giants," iSuppli said, saying that such supply-chain realignment began to reshuffle the consumer-electronics semiconductor-supplier ranks in some areas in 2003.

MediaTek Inc (聯發科技), for example, displaced Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co to be the No. 1 supplier of chips for DVD players in 2003, according to iSuppli's latest rankings.

The trend is expected to go on as Taiwanese ODMs are increasingly employing chips from MediaTek and other domestic suppliers, particularly in product areas like DVD players, the research institute predicted.

Last year, the world's consumer electronics sector experienced the briskest time in five years, seeing revenue increase to US$248.3 billion, up 8.1 percent from US$229.7 billion the previous year, which was driven by the robust economy worldwide and the availability of many highly compelling products at falling prices, the report read.

This drove impressive growth for consumer-electronics semiconductors in the meantime, with sales rising to US$45.95 billion last year, up 29.2 percent from US$35.6 billion in 2003, according to iSuppli's preliminary estimate.

Toshiba Corp, Sony Corp, Matsushita and Renesas Technology Corp all posted double-digit growth in annual revenue and remained the top four suppliers of consumer-electronics semiconductors last year, with market shares of 12.2 percent, 8.8 percent, 5.8 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively, according to iSuppli.

These dominating players, however, faced strong competition posed by their foreign rivals.

Samsung Electronics Ltd of South Korea jumped to the No. 5 last year from 10th place in 2003, seeing impressive revenue growth of 71.4 percent -- from US$1.1 billion to nearly US$2 billion -- during the same period. Samsung benefited from increasing sales of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) televisions, an area where it sells LCD driver chips, as well as its entry into the market for Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor image sensors and for video-enhancement chips, iSuppli said.

Another impressive player was Texas Instruments Inc, whose chip sales to the consumer electronics market rose by 65.1 percent last year, driven by the rise in its sales of Digital Light Processing chips for projection TVs and in hard disk drives used in MP3 players, the research institute added.

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