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Comms chips

CSR Breaks Into 802.11

Bluetooth trailblazer CSR is making a move on the wireless LAN market with the launch of single-chip products aimed at the cellular phone and consumer space.

The products, dubbed UniFi, are the U.K. vendor’s first venture outside the Bluetooth market since its inception five years ago (see CSR Ships 50M Bluetooth Chips and CSR Intros BlueCore4-PC).

UniFi-1 Portable is a dualband 802.11b/g single-chip product aimed at the cellphone market, whilst UniFi-1 Consumer supports all three 802.11 (a/b/g) standards and is focused on both the cellphone and consumer electronic space.

The company expects customers to start sampling UniFi kit before the end of the year, with full production “before mid 2005.”

“The main reason we aren’t going after the laptop and PC space is because it’s an area where commoditization could occur," CTO James Collier tells Unstrung. "Also, Intel is there with a $300 million marketing campaign... We believe the majority of our new growth will be in the embedded space rather than computers.”

CSR’s strategy mirrors a recent decision by 802.11 chipmaker Agere Systems Inc. (NYSE: AGR.A) to pull the plug on its development of 802.11 products for the PC market and turn its attention to voice-over-WLAN (VOWLAN) technology (see Agere Quits 802.11).

In addition to Agere, CSR is also likely to face competition from the likes of Infineon Technologies AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: IFX), Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL), Royal Philips Electronics N.V. (NYSE: PHG; Amsterdam: PHI), and Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN).

Collier says the company has already signed its first customer in the shape of Japanese electronic device manufacturer ALPS Electric Co. Ltd. “They give us a very good channel into the cellular and camera phone market... We have other customers. I know there is demand for this.”

Today’s move follows an impressive set of third-quarter financials for the company, also released today (see CSR Ups Profit).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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