Texas Instruments announced earlier today that they are partnering with Harman and iRobot to provide OMAP 5 as the core processor for new products being developed in these two companies. To understand what this means in TI’s greater strategy, we need to back up a bit to take a look as some other initiatives they have going on and see where they all tie together.
TI’s previously announced WiLink 8 chip promises to offer a unified set of communications controllers to electronics manufacturers. This will manifest itself in many kinds of consumer electronics, especially mobile phones and tablets. What it means is that manufacturers will have a way to easily and more cheaply offer NFC, FM, cellular data and other connectivity all from a single integrated chip instead of having to include individual controllers. This will save board space and time. Oh yeah, and money too.
As I said, the teaser announcement about WiLink 8 came out 2 weeks ago, but today at the Mobile World Congress, we were able to see some practical examples like the one below where physical NFC tokens can be used to authenticate for a variety of services.
Again, this is not announcing that NFC is now in phones or tablets, but rather how NFC can be put into phones and tablets.
The belief is that the integrated approach could speed the adoption of NFC inside devices because it is easier for manufacturers to implement.
This is a powerful B2B strategy.
But Texas Instruments is also revealing an interesting content strategy as well and this is most easily seen with further developments to their OMAP 5 chipset.
So what exactly is OMAP 5? For the unfamiliar, it is a chipset that smartly splits processing power amongst multiple cores.
First announced last year around this time, the OMAP5 enables some fairly compelling content to run well on mobile devices. And many 3rd party developers are taking advantage of the chip’s power to push the envelope of mobile video, AR and more.
In this way, you might call TI the brand behind the brands in that they provide the hardware platform that enables some of the most complex mobile content to date. And content is central to their strategy. This is evident in the multiple agreements they have been setting up over the last several months, like the previously mentioned Harman and iRobot agreements.
But Harman is an automotive company. What does that have to do with phones and tablets?
Herein lies another key part of their total strategy which is expanding their hardware development efforts beyond just phones and tablets and including a multitude of consumer electronics. This strategy is for embedding functionality in everything from thermostats to on-board car entertainment to wearables.
And this brings us back to their partnership announcement with Harman and iRobot. These companies obviously feel that the OMAP5 — which uses only two ARM A15 processors, unlike some other architectures that use quad cores — is powerful enough for their needs. (The demo TI played at their press conference showed their processor running a multitude of tests about 100 seconds faster than one of their competitors).