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Combination NFC ICs take up 35% market share

Posted: 16 Mar 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NFC Controller  NFC  combination ICs 

IMS Research predicts that 35 per cent of NFC controllers shipped in 2016 will be connectivity combos that combine NFC technology with wireless standard such as Bluetooth, 802.11, GPS and FM.

Don Tait, senior analyst states that "To date the majority of NFC controllers sold have been stand-alone solutions that are embedded into end-devices, SD Cards or implemented as part of a module alongside the NFC secure element. This had led to a situation where secure digital IC specialists such as NXP Semiconductors and Inside Secure have dominated the market. However, as NFC penetration ramps up in devices such as smartphones, it makes increasing sense to design the controller functionality into a connectivity IC, such as Bluetooth, 802.11 or GPS IC. Ultimately this will result in companies dominant in the connectivity world, such as CSR, Broadcom, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and Marvel, taking an increasing share of the NFC controller market."

Tait continues, "This trend is illustrated by recent NFC combination IC announcements from companies such as Marvel and Texas Instruments. That being said, the incumbent NFC controller suppliers aren't going to give up without a fight, a fact illustrated by NXP announcing its new PN547 NFC controller in time for MWC. This is the successor to the PN544 NFC controller and offers twice the RF communication range, is half the size, uses half the power and communicates at five times the speed. It also offers the possibility to use antenna's a third of the size of commonly used NFC antenna's, potentially reducing costs & aiding integration".

From this it seems NXP intends to fight its corner by offering clear product performance differentiators. However, a number of connectivity suppliers claim that they will quickly be able to match this kind of performance, while also offering the efficiencies associated with a combo! IMS Research's view is that developments such as those in relation to NXP's PN547 will slow the momentum towards combos, but not stop it in the medium term.

Tait concludes "To counteract the increased popularity of connectivity combination controllers during the next few years, some suppliers are expected to launch security combination ICs. The security combination IC is defined as being the combination of the secure element and the NFC radio on a single piece of silicon. IMS Research believes that while security combination ICs will be able to take some share of the overall market, it will not be to the same extent as connectivity combos."

For more statistics and forecasts, click here.

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