* Rising competition pressuring chip selling prices
* Little threat from Qualcomm’s Atheros acquisition
(Adds further details, quotes)
By Lee Chyen Yee and Argin Chang
TAIPEI, May 31 (Reuters) - U.S. chipmaker Broadcom Corp BRCM.O expects near-field communications (NFC) wireless technology to be a main revenue driver in coming years as paying by mobile handsets becomes routine.
NFC is a way to swap data wirelessly, allowing mobile phones to pay for goods, store e-tickets or swap photos and business cards.
“We think it’s going to be a very big deal,” Michael Hurlston, senior vice president for Broadcom’s wireless LAN business, told Reuters in an interview at the Computex PC show in Taipei.
Broadcom, the world’s biggest wireless local area network
(WLAN) chipmaker by shipments, plans to eventually roll out a combo chip with WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC capabilities, Hurlston said, though he declined to provide a timeframe.
However, the NFC market will be a little choppy over the next couple of years before various issues are ironed out.
“Security issues have roughly been worked out, but there are still debates as to where does the security go. Does it go on to the SIM card or does the security go on the phone platform itself,” he said.
Another issue is the infrastructure, which will depend on how quickly stores and banks adopt the new technology to make mobile payments pervasive, Hurlston said.
Broadcom, which forecast a second-quarter revenue range with a midpoint of $1.8 billion, competes with Texas Instruments Inc TXN.N and Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) in mobile phone chips.
More chipmakers are now trying to tap into the fast-growing WiFi market.
Earlier this month, Qualcomm completed its $3.1 billion acquisition of Atheros Communications, a key maker of chips used in WiFi, Bluetooth and Ethernet networking.
“Atheros has to become strong if it’s going to be a threat. It would be no different if they were a standalone company than with Qualcomm,” Hurlston said.
With more electronics devices, such as televisions, computers and cameras having WiFi capability, shipments of WLAN chipsets will double in 2011 to 738.9 million units, according to iSuppli research.
Shipments of the chipsets will rise to exceed 1 billion units in shipments next year and then hit more than 2 billion units by 2014, iSuppli said.
(Editing by David Cowell)
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