We have reported on MediaTek's difficulties: the chipset designer has become something of a victim of its own success. MediaTek's first mobile chipsets were designed for tablets and offered relatively little over and above an application processor core and accompanying graphics processor unit, or GPU. However over the years, the company has refined and improved its product family such that it is now closer to the established chip designers such as Qualcomm and NVIDIA. MediaTek's System-on-Chips now in many cases include integrated modems, location sensors and more, plus are fabricated on smaller and smaller sizes too. However, because the chipsets include more and more features, so too has the price increased and MediaTek have been suffering from other manufacturers building cheaper chipsets. The business has made some changes to the product portfolio, such as branding different families of chipset (the MediaTek Helio range, offered in X and P-class chipsets).
We have also seen MediaTek developing products for the Internet of Things industry and today's story concerns the company branding out into the automotive and virtual reality spheres. Here, unnamed industry sources are citing that MediaTek's research and development teams have started working with European-based car vendors. They are also taking input from smartphone manufacturers and are redeveloping the company's chipsets so as to optimize these for the automotive electronics industry. This means that MediaTek are placing greater emphasis on building in-car entertainment systems although the company's partnership with NavInfo, a Chinese digital mapping provider, could also be beneficial to the automotive venture. MediaTek recently inked a collaborative deal with NavInfo to sell AutoChips, or Hefei, to the Chinese company as well as formed a strategic alliance, which will require MediaTek to invest $100 million.
MediaTek are also investing into the virtual reality sector but are concentrating their efforts on designing chipsets suitable for smartphones, rather than developing boards for dedicated standalone headsets. They will not be working on dedicated augmented reality hardware but their chipsets are going to support Google's new virtual reality platform, Daydream. However, whilst MediaTek's interests in the automobile and virtual reality sectors are interesting, the company still expects their Internet of Things business to become more important: they are forecasting this side of the business to be the third most significant, behind mobile device chipsets and connected smart home electronics.