KYOTO — Forget all those storied but stodgy consumer electronics companies like Sony and Panasonic. And today’s embattled Japanese semiconductor vendors… Renesas, Socionext? Forget about them, too.
The new hope for Japan’s electronics industry is component suppliers who started out making lowly components: ceramic condensers, SAW filters, switches, inductors, etc.
Among these upstarts, Murata Manufacturing Co. stands out.
Murata has become one of the world’s biggest suppliers of wireless modules for smartphones. Designed into Apple and Samsung phones, Murata’s communication modules – whose size and power are optimized to fit, snug and cool in very slim smartphones – command an estimated 50 percent of the global smartphone market.
Packed into this wireless module are Murata components that include ceramic capacitors, SAW filters, RF, power amplifiers and more. The only items Murata outsources are digital chips such as WiFi and Bluetooth, from companies like Broadcom, Texas Instruments or NXP.
The genius of Murata’s business is a reversal of fortune Murata itself engineered.
Due to the complexity required in tighter integration, layout and the matching of components inside such a module, the added value for smartphone vendors no longer lies in individual components or digital connectivity chips. It’s in the Murata module.
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