Chipmakers dream of China as they head to Spain's smartphone gala

Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:08am EST
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By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO/BARCELONA (Reuters) - The world's biggest mobile brands will jostle for the spotlight at the premier mobile industry event this week in Spain, but away from the glitzy displays chipmakers will be preoccupied with China, the largest mobile market on the planet.

From Qualcomm and Intel to MediaTek, Marvell and Broadcom, the suppliers of the crucial components that power smartphone applications and drive high-speed wireless connections are scrambling to capitalize on opportunities taking shape as Chinese brands and telecoms carriers such as China Mobile gear up for 4G LTE, or Long-Term Evolution.

China's move to LTE, a standard now adopted mostly in the United States, gives Intel and other chipmakers a unique chance to knock dominant LTE chip supplier Qualcomm off its perch.

The Mobile World Congress will be a pivotal battleground.

With more Chinese companies than ever showing up in Spain - 99 exhibitors from China this year, up from 70 last year - the event presents an opportunity for chipmakers to show off their best products.

Companies including Intel and Qualcomm will debut new and upcoming LTE-oriented microprocessors in Barcelona. Many are designed to consume less power and will be priced lower than previous cutting-edge components, making them ideal for mid-range and cheaper phones popular in China and other emerging markets.

That focus will be pervasive across the exhibition floor.

Qualcomm has created a Chinese version of a Mobile World Congress smartphone app for the event and has posted translations of signs around its display area. It's even sending pre-show emails in Chinese directed at Chinese visitors.   Continued...

Handout image released by shows the Qualcomm MDM9615M chip on a board of a new iPhone 5 in Melbourne, Australia September 21, 2012. REUTERS/