Broadcom CEO Says Wearable Market Way Bigger Than Just Apple and Samsung
Apple and Samsung may be planning watches, but Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor said that big-name brands may not dominate the wearable computing market the way they have the phone business.
“There are, like, two companies that make half of all the smartphones on the planet,” McGregor said in an interview on Tuesday with AllThingsD. “I think wearables are going to be different.”
Smartphones have become powerful generic computing devices used for a range of tasks, but McGregor said that wearable computing could well prove to be a host of niche devices each tailored to a smaller user base with a particular need. Also, McGregor said that aesthetics may play a broader role in wearables than they have in smartphones.
“There aren’t two manufacturers that make all the jewelry on the planet,” McGregor said.
McGregor notes the dozens of digital watches being funded through Kickstarter, with wearable products serving niches such as Boston commuters or pet owners who want to track Fido’s exercise. On Tuesday, Broadcom announced an effort to better position Broadcom to sell its wireless chips to tens of thousands of smaller companies, rather than just the couple dozen largest device makers.
McGregor said Broadcom wants to make it possible for three-person companies to design wireless products — not just the big companies with hundreds of people and years of wireless expertise.
Of course, that’s not to say that Broadcom isn’t interested in selling lots of chips to the big guys. The company is already a big supplier to both Apple and Samsung. McGregor wouldn’t comment on any unannounced products, but said, “We do expect that a significant number of wearables coming out are going to have Broadcom silicon in them.”
And McGregor certainly isn’t counting out the idea that Apple, Samsung or another big company could develop a breakthrough device with mass appeal.
“It’s a little premature to judge that,” he said. “It could go both ways.”
Either way, Broadcom sees an opportunity to stand out in wearables in ways that it hasn’t in phone chips. There, the big-name chips are the application processors, chips from Qualcomm, Nvidia and Samsung. Many of these wearable devices, McGregor said, will be marked by strong wireless capabilities and only the most modest of ARM processors.
At an event on Tuesday, Broadcom showed its wireless chips powering a range of new connected household devices, from wireless temperature gauges from iCelsius to a Budweiser hockey-goal lamp that taps the Internet to track its owner’s favorite NHL team, sounding a horn and lighting up each time that team scores.
“Connectivity is what makes all of the products interesting,” McGregor said.