This is yet another deal in a buying spree that has seen Intel agree to acquire Texas Instruments Inc.‘s cable modem product line, on Aug 16 and willing to spend $7.68 billion on security software vendor McAfee Inc. last week.
In the Intel–Infineon deal, one analyst believes that Infineon exited the wireless chip business — just in time. Today, Infineon‘s cell-phone chipset is being used in Apple‘s iPhone and iPad. In those products, Apple is reportedly planning to offer a CDMA version, based on Qualcomm‘s chipset.
Apple may be even working on its own cell-phone chip sets, according to an analyst.
”I’ve read the scenarios that the divesture will allow the surviving Infineon Technologies AG to better concentrate on its more profitable automotive and industrial chip business, but I don’t think that’s the whole story,” said Will Strauss, president and principal analyst at Forward Concepts Co.
”My theory is that Infineon is aware that Verizon will be fielding a CDMA version of the iPhone rumored to be introduced next January. A CDMA version of iPhone would certainly require an advanced Qualcomm 3G modem, essentially letting the Qualcomm camel ‘get its nose under the tent’, perhaps displacing some of the Infineon modems destined for future iPhones,” he said.
”It’s unlikely that Intel WLS will see its Apple iPhone socket disappear, but the CDMA segment of the market (viz, Verizon, Sprint, KDDI, etc.) would not be available to Intel‘s cellphone modems,” he said. ”If the Qualcomm/Verizon approach proves to be successful, can iPad be far behind, especially with Qualcomm‘s Gobi modem, allowing the user to select either CDMA or UMTS carriers. Since Qualcomm also is a major supplier of UMTS modems, they could even eat into the main Intel WLS iPhone market.”
For Apple, there is a different scenario. ”Apple’s acquisition of PA Semi and its (perhaps unrelated) introduction of the (Samsung-fabricated) A4 processor employed in both iPhone 4 and iPad, indicates that Apple is looking to eventually ‘own’ its mobile processors. Will being a slave to Intel for both its desktop and mobile processors sit well with Apple. I don’t think so. Qualcomm could look very attractive to Mr. Jobs for future mobile planning,” he added.
Rick Merritt 1/17/2008 1:55 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO — The coming year looks grim for semiconductor makers, but strength in cellphones and clean technologies hold opportunities for growth, according to Wolfgang Ziebart, chief executive of Infineon.
We had the opportunity to interview Ziebart in our San Francisco office after he attended the Steve Jobs keynote at MacWorld on Tuesday (Jan. 15). Here are some of his observations on that keynote, cellular technology in general, the drive for power efficiency and the outlook for the semiconductor industry.