Report: MediaTek takes over as world's largest smartphone chipset vendor

Let's see how long it can keep the lead.

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Move over, Qualcomm: According to a new report from research firm Counterpoint, MediaTek has overtaken the San Diego-based chipmaker to become the world’s biggest vendor of smartphone chipsets by market share. While Qualcomm (understandably) held onto its title as the biggest purveyor of 5G-friendly chipsets, Counterpoint’s data suggests that more than 100 million MediaTek-powered smartphones were sold in Q3 2020 — a roughly five percent increase compared to this time last year.

Counterpoint’s report added some valuable context to MediaTek’s most recent earnings release, in which it reported revenues of NT$97,275 million — a boost of nearly 50 percent over the year-ago quarter. In its press release, the Taiwanese company pinned that growth on notable gains in market share; according to Counterpoint’s data, that was largely thanks to “strong performance in the $100-$250 price band” and continued growth in markets like India, China and Latin America. Those factors combined ultimately meant MediaTek’s chips accounted for 31 percent of the overall market, just edging out Qualcomm’s 29 percent.

“MediaTek was also able to leverage the gap created due to the US ban on Huawei,” said Counterpoint research director Dale Gai. “Affordable MediaTek chips fabricated by TSMC became the first option for many OEMs to quickly fill the gap left by Huawei’s absence. Huawei had also previously purchased a significant amount of chipsets ahead of the ban.”

While MediaTek’s most lucrative markets may lie overseas, the company has begun making inroads in the United States. Granted, Qualcomm still has the distinct edge, but the T-Mobile variant of LG’s fashion-forward Velvet smartphone ran on one of MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000 chipsets, and some felt it had the potential to outgun the Snapdragon 765 used in other carrier models.

The global shift to 5G shows no sign of slowing, but many developing markets around will not be able to adopt the technology as quickly as mature ones. In the meantime, MediaTek is clearly banking on demand for affordable mid-range chipsets to ride to new highs — and we can’t blame them.