Thursday, January 11, 2007

Calls of Note Part 3

- Merrill Lynch notes that in the course of doing vendor checks at the consumer electronics show and elsewhere, it appears that Texas Instrument's (NYSE:TXN) much-discussed Locosto is having some early difficulties. The firm has no doubt that Locosto will be successful for TXN over the long run, and the part is shipping in volume, but they do think that expectations for Locosto-driven share gain in 2007 may be too high. Recall that Locosto integrates the radio transceiver and the baseband onto a single die, manufactured on a CMOS process. Working with an integrated CMOS radio is new for handset OEMs and carriers, and firm's checks indicate that transmit noise in the receive band has been an early challenge. Working around that requires the use of additional off-chip filters and matching circuits, which adds additional components and cost to the handset. Motorola's new entry-level MotoFone is the most visible Locosto win, and appears to have been hit by the component count issues they've turned up.

It would be foolish to argue that TI will not overcome some of Locosto's early problems, and they'd expect to see subsequent OEM implementations of the part look better. On the other hand, though, early expectations that Locosto was going to be a game-changer for TI at the low end of the market may not be met.

Notablecalls: Locosto has been expected to be in 50% of low-end handset by H2:2007. The comments from ML are not actionable but do warrant some attention.

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