Shipments of smartphone-use application processors in China are expected to reach 179 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, up 4.1% on quarter and 1.4% on year, according to estimates of Digitimes Research.
MediaTek's shipments of smartphone APs are gaining a boost in the fourth quarter, fueled by the promotion of its Helio P23 and P30 SoCs, both of which meet China Mobile's Cat. 7 specifications and feature a vision processing unit (VPU) supporting AI applications. As a result, MediaTek is expected to narrow its shipment gap against Qualcomm to 4.1pp in the fourth quarter, Digitimes Research estimates.
Qualcomm managed to maintain its leading market position in China's smartphone AP market in the second and third quarters of 2017, buoyed by booming smartphone sales enjoyed by Xiaomi Technology, which bought a large portion of its APs from Qualcomm. However, Qualcomm will face price competition in the fourth quarter as it will be unable to continue to dominate the Cat.7 and above market segments.
Overall, smartphone AP shipments in the China market expanded 24.3% sequentially to 172 million units in the third quarter of 2017 due largely to replenishment demand from brand smartphone vendors with Qualcomm being the top beneficiary.
Smartphone AP shipments from Spreadtrum Communications and MediaTek were affected somewhat in the third quarter due to decreased smartphone shipments by white-box handset vendors, affected by rising prices for components (such as memory chips) and decreased overseas orders.