In an interaction with ETTelecom’s Muntazir Abbas, MediaTek general manager Finbarr Moynihan said that there had been a heavy consumer shift towards 4G smartphones after the Jio’s foray in the second half 2016.
Moynihan also talked about solutions for IoT and solar-connected devices which the Taiwanese company is currently developing. Edited Excerpts.
What are the global industry trends in the wake of 4G and how MediaTek is placed?
The global market is interesting if we look at what’s happened in the industry in last couple of years, MediaTek had some phenomenal growth last year. MediaTek had 33-34% market share of LTE so what we have seen over a last couple of years, I think we see the strength continuing this year is the 4G wave hit completely. If you look few years ago, it was really China’s condition was like from 3G to 4G.
I think in India and China, you have some driving forces that really pushed the industry in other markets and what we see now is that 4G is the dominant technology and still there is a sizeable market for 2G, 3G phones in India, Africa and South East Asia. Last year, the market share of smartphone in India was about 120 million units and in the second-half of the 2016, we saw the public started shifting very heavily from 3G to 4G.
How do you see India’s telecom sector with the entry of Reliance Jio?
We love India at this moment it’s growing and we see a lot of opportunity in India. First of all there is lot of conversion to smartphones and which will continue. I think there are still there one is that there are people who have still not had their first smartphone.
As a company, how do you see opportunity roughly in terms of number or the market share in India?
Our market share is probably same as we think to our global market. It is probably in the 30% kind of range and that across all brands so you know and historically I think MediaTek has done very well in Indian brands.
With 4G coming, more people have switched to smartphones and the market quite dynamic. There is a very big tempting market in India. We will continue to do what we can. Global market today is between 1.1 and 1.2 billion and 4G smartphones probably growing to 1.5 billion in the coming years. We feel that this 4G feature phone category is probably a little bit more revolutionary and it won’t be the same economy of scale any time soon.
Any partnership with Indian brands like Lava, Intex, Micromax?
We have worked with all these companies for years so we have many years of relationships with all the brands and we supply chip sets and have worked with all the brands so we have certainly seen good relationships with the Indian brands and also with other brands that are serving the Indian market.
So what’s your product road map and are you coming up with more chip variants?
We will continue to invest in our HELIO series and the HELIO series has quite been successful for us since we launched it about three years ago and it probably accounts for 15-20% of overall shipments.
And how is your business with the Chinese brands such as Oppo, Vivo going?
It has been a major story in the industry for the last couple of years when you look at the global smartphone market, you know seven of the top 10 global brands are now China-oriented. These includes Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Alcatel, Lenovo, Motorola and Lee TV.
So do you have business with all these brands?
Pretty much with anyone who is shipping Android phones worldwide is a customer of Mediatek. We have very good relationships with the Chinese brands we are not exclusive to anybody.
So any new partnership? Are you specifically working with Jio as it is a purely 4G driven with ambitious plans?
We continue to work with all the operators. In India, so not one or the other but basically all of them so that when ultimately when a consumer comes to the market in India that they get a 4G device that can operate well on all carrier network. Some maybe more aggressive on 4G, some maybe more aggressive on 3G or different technologies, so our focus is really just making sure we deliver the best possible solution for all brands AND for all carriers and ultimately for all subscribers in India rather than any particular one. Of course, Jio has been a major force in driving the industry to 4G which is a good thing.
So what is your roadmap for India in terms of workforce and R&D?
MediaTek has two major sites in India, one is in Noida. A few years ago we opened a new R&D site in Bangalore. The majority of our head counts in Noida and Bangalore. Our R&D includes Wi-Fi, cellular modem, SoC, CPU technology, those developments could go into products that go everywhere, so they are not just for the Indian market.
So how big is this headcount? Any plans to scale it up?
We are around 250 in Noida and another 250 in Bangalore. We have about 500 in total. So it is a significant part of our R&D headcounts and you know something that we take very seriously. We are obviously looking for opportunities to expand so nothing we are announcing in particular at this point but I think those on both sides that we continue to invest strongly and again you know some of the technologies that are being developed there we record technologies for the company’s overall roadmap. So we continue to have a large R&D headcount. That is an important phase for us in India. 4G networks is an area we have been investing in and focusing on in India
What has been your progress in the space of IoT?
Industrial IoT is the real interesting wave that is coming and in terms of smart cities, smart towns and smart factories, which I think is the area that will probably have more relevance to India. It is definitely an area we are focused on. We are also developing solutions for smart cities and solar connected devices. You will see us probably talking more about that later this year but we are certainly very active in that area as well.
So this is for wireless connected devices?
MediaTek has a lot of connected devices- Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G, 4G and working on 5G and end-to-end solutions. So you will see us focused on very different connectivity for very different applications. For variables, the focus may be on Bluetooth, GPS. For the smart home it might be more about Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. For things like smart cities and smart factories and stuff it might be more cellular technologies. We are focused on the whole range and are excited about it and these will go over next five to 10 years’ time and we see it as a long-term plan.