Global Smartphone AP Market Continues To Grow Amid Supply Crunch

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Amid the acute demand-supply gap, the global smartphone applications processor (AP) market grew 23 per cent to $30.8 billion in 2021, a new report has said.

Qualcomm maintained its smartphone AP leadership with a 38 per cent revenue share, followed by MediaTek and Apple with 26 per cent each, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Apple, MediaTek, Qualcomm and Unisoc gained market share while HiSilicon and Samsung LSI lost share.

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“For the first time on an annual basis, MediaTek overtook Qualcomm in units and established over 75 million unit-leads in smartphone APs in 2021,” said Sravan Kundojjala, Director of Handset Component Technologies service at Strategy Analytics.

MediaTek capitalised on Qualcomm’s defocus on mid and low tier 4G LTE APs and gained volume share.

Despite the loss of unit share crown, Qualcomm exited 2021 with over 43 per cent higher revenue than MediaTek, thanks to an increased mix of higher-priced premium and high-tier APs,” Kundojjala added.

Both companies performed well in the 5G AP segment and posted a 13-year high in their AP average selling prices (ASPs). 5G-attached AP shipments grew 84 per cent year-over-year, accounting for 46 per cent of total smartphone APs shipped in 2021.

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Shipments of APs with on-device artificial intelligence (AI) engines crossed 900 million in 2021, roughly flat compared to 2020, the report said.

Top-selling Android AI APs include Snapdragon 888/888+, 765/G, 750G and 662 and Dimensity 700. TSMC manufactured three in four smartphone APs shipped in 2021. In addition, semiconductor foundries, including TSMC and Samsung Foundry, held up well despite supply constraints and helped the industry capture growth.

Google entered the smartphone AP market in 2021 with its Pixel Tensor chip, capturing approximately 0.1 per cent unit and revenue share.

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“For the first time in the last six years, Samsung shipped less than 100 million APs in 2021. However, Samsung could regain market share with its new Exynos 1280 mid-range 5G AP in 2022,” Kundojjala added.

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