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Freescale Boosts Share Of Tablet Processor Market

The leader in e-reader chips is powering 11 tablet PCs, including a growing number of Chinese white box devices.
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Freescale Semiconductor's processors are powering 11 tablets from recognized brands to Chinese white box tablets, increasing its presence in the consumer electronics market, the company said Thursday.

While western markets have focused mainly on a small number of high-profile tablet products, many of which haven't yet shipped, Freescale said it has garnered a large share of the rapidly growing white box market, which is predominantly in Asia.

Freescale said it is already the market-share leader in the e-reader segment, citing a recent ABI Research report that the majority of commercially released tablets in 2010 use its application processors. Most of these tablets feature 7-inch displays, are Wi-Fi enabled, and run on the Android operating system, according to ABI Research.

The firm also noted that China is a "white box market, in which brand is relatively unimportant, prices are relatively affordable (though still higher than those of netbooks), and devices are aimed at domestic consumers," industry analyst Celia Bo said in a statement. These so-called white box tablets don't have much technological innovation, but more vendors will be offering devices next year with more ambitious capabilities, the firm said.

The bulk of the Freescale-powered tablets are geared at consumer activities such as Web browsing, social networking, shopping, and online content. However, many of the tablets' designs are intended for other uses, indicating that "the form factor is evolving and segmenting to meet additional market requirements," Freescale said. The company cited a 7-inch Freescale-based tablet that serves as a browser-equipped touchscreen controller for a high-end connected color printer as one example. Other 5.5-inch and 10-inch devices are marketed as color e-readers and feature a color touchscreen, web browsing, and social networking capabilities, the Austin, Texas-based company said.

"Freescale has experienced significant demand from tablet OEMs around the world as they prepared products for the 2010 holiday shopping season," said Glen Burchers, director of marketing for Freescale's consumer segment, in a statement. "Freescale's signature blend of performance, energy efficiency, and cost-optimized embedded processing is proving attractive for a range of tablet OEMs."

The company's analog power management products are features of many of the Freescale-powered tablets, the company said.

In related news, Freescale's CEO said earlier this week that the company will likely launch an initial public offering in 2011. "The capital structure now is in very good shape. So will we have a positive macroeconomic environment in 2011. We think so," CEO Rich Beyer said in an interview with Reuters. "And will the semiconductor sector be seen in a positive light? We think so."

Earlier this year Freescale launched an inexpensive e-reader chip to help reduce the retail price of the devices.