With much of the growth in the mobile phone market expected to come from emerging markets, Texas Instruments (TI) has stepped up development of advanced processors designed for low-cost handsets.
On Monday at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, TI announced two new ultra-low-cost single-chip processors, as well as extensions to its family of advanced multimedia processors that deliver high-end graphics, high-definition video and mobile TV.
"We expect about 4 billion [mobile phone] subscribers by 2010," said Rich Templeton, CEO and president of TI at a news conference. "Emerging markets will be the big driver."
One of the single-chip processors will offer GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), an MP3 player, USB 2.0 and a slot for mass storage cards, such as SD (Secure Digital) and MMC (multimedia card).
Among the extensions to the OMAP family of advanced multimedia processors is a product that will support a 5-megapixel camera and VGA (video graphics array) video playback features.
For high-end handsets TI has developed a multimedia processor, OMAP 3430, that uses "smart pixel" technology by which each pixel or triangle is programmed individually.
Asked about a recent comment by Ed Zander, chief executive officer and chairman of Motorola, that selling low-cost handsets has been good for the company's sales but not necessarily for its bottom line, Templeton argued that manufacturers shouldn't underestimate the power of branding when selling mobile phones to first-time users. "It is a major strategic mistake not to look at this market," he said.