MediaTek overtakes Qualcomm as largest supplier of smartphone chips

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The Qualcomm Snapdragon line of smartphone SoCs may be the most popular with tech enthusiasts, but it’s not the most popular in terms of sales. In fact, Taiwanese chipset company MediaTek has overtaken Qualcomm as the largest supplier for smartphones.

Reported by tech analysis company Omdia, 2020 saw MediaTek's huge growth in comparison to Qualcomm. Due in part to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Taiwanese company is now sitting on the number one spot.

How did MediaTek overtake Qualcomm?

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With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic heavily affecting the budget of ordinary citizens, many are avoiding high-end flagship devices in favour of cheaper phones. Other niche Android products like handheld consoles also use MediaTek chipsets instead of the more expensive Qualcomm offerings.

“Mostly important for MediaTek’s growth in 2020 was... the pandemic in the first half of 2020,”  explains Omdia Senior Analyst, Zaker Li. “Low-end and mid/low-end devices were popular with buyers. MediaTek’s ability to compete present an alternative to Qualcomm chips in this price segment helped the company grow.”

In total, shipped 351.8 million chips in 2020. In comparison, the company shipped 238 million chips throughout 2019, a significant difference.

Read More:Qualcomm is taking on Nintendo with a Switch style console

Will Qualcomm fight back in 2021?

Qualcomm is releasing a brand-new set of smartphone chips this year. Most flagship devices will be paired with the Snapdragon 888, and the company is planning on releasing new laptop chips to compete with Apple's M1 hardware.

However, as many are still affected financially by the current world state, there's no knowing how much the company will be able to fight back. It’s looking more likely that Qualcomm will keep the second place spot for 2021.

 “In 2021, MediaTek is expected to extend last year’s lead trend on smartphone chipset shipment,” Omdia reports. 

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