Global smartphone application processor market grows 23% in 2021 revenue

Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES, Taipei 0


The global smartphone application processor (AP) market grew 23% to US$30.8 billion in 2021, according to Strategy Analytics. Qualcomm maintained its smartphone AP leadership with a 38% revenue share, followed by MediaTek and Apple each having 26%.

Apple, MediaTek, Qualcomm and Unisoc gained market share in 2021, while HiSilicon and Samsung LSI lost share, said Strategy Analytics.

In terms of unit shipments, MediaTek overtook Qualcomm in 2021. "For the first time on an annual basis, MediaTek overtook Qualcomm in units and established over 75 million unit-lead in smartphone APs 2021," said Sravan Kundojjala, director of Strategy Analytics' handset component technologies service. "MediaTek capitalized 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% higher revenue than MediaTek, thanks to an increased mix of higher-priced premium and high-tier APs," Kundojjala continued. "Both companies performed well in the 5G AP segment and posted a 13-year high in their AP average selling prices (ASP)."

"Unisoc made a strong comeback in 2021 with the help of renewed LTE AP portfolio and tier-one design wins," Kundojjala indicated. Strategy Analytics believes that Unisoc has the potential to take LTE AP share from MediaTek in 2022 as the latter shifts its focus to 5G.

In 2021, 5G-attached AP shipments climbed 84% on year accounting for 46% of total smartphone APs shipped during the year, Strategy Analytics said. Meanwhile, shipments of APs with on-device artificial intelligence (AI) engines crossed 900 million in 2021, roughly flat compared to 2020. Increased shipments of mid-range APs without AI engines limited the growth.

TSMC manufactured three in four smartphone APs shipped in 2021, Strategy Analytics also noted. Meanwhile, smartphone APs manufactured using 7nm and below process technologies accounted for 43% of total smartphone AP shipments in 2021.

Google entered the smartphone AP market in 2021 with its Pixel Tensor chip, capturing approximately 0.1% unit and revenue share, according to Strategy Analytics.