Even without Apple as a major client, Synaptics has always played an important role in the human interface solution industry. This year, Rick Bergman, CEO of Synaptics, personally attended Computex 2014 in Taipei, Taiwan. During his interview, Bergman expressed his high expectations for the Asian market, which he admits to being extremely important, and repeatedly referred to the astonishing growth of the Asian market during the course of his speech.
Each year, Synaptics enjoys above double-digit revenue growth; the company predicts that fingerprint recognition will become a major trending technology on the market. In Q3 of 2014, Synaptics enjoyed a year on year growth of 44 percent in mobile devices, which can be attributed to its fingerprint recognition technology. At present, 74 percent of the company’s revenue comes from mobile phones, 10 percent comes from tablets, and 16 percent is generated by laptops. The company forecasts revenue of laptops will decrease to less than 10 percent in the fiscal year of 2016.
Fingerprint Recognition Becomes Standard
During the conference, Bergman stated the company’s products have already moved into the mobile phone industry of Greater China, and mobile phone manufacturers such as Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, OPPO, HTC, and Xiaomi have started to use touchscreen technology from Synaptics. According to Bergman, apart from being used in traditional high-end smartphones, fingerprint recognition will begin to enter the low-end smartphone market next year. This seems to imply that fingerprint recognition will become a standard in mobile phones within the next few years.
According to a research conducted by Synaptics, CAGR of high-end smartphones will slow to 9 percent, but CAGR of low-end smartphones will continue to remain at 19 percent. It is forecast that around 900 million high-end smartphones and around 500 million low-end smartphones will be shipped in 2016. Overall, around 1.5 billion smartphones will be shipped in 2016.
Now that fingerprint recognition is about become a standard for mobile phones, it is likely Apple might become Synaptics’ largest competitor since the former has its own Touch ID technology. Synaptics also plans to expand fingerprint recognition to the whole interface of the phone. Its long-term goal is to expand fingerprint recognition to the whole of the interface, allowing fingerprint recognition to be performed on the entire display.
Wearable Technology and IoT
Though Synaptics’ main source of revenue comes from laptops, tablets, and smartphones, the company is also working on different ways to improve its touchscreen technology in each of these categories, Bergman stated. Beginning fourth quarter of 2014, more smart watches using Synaptics’s interface IC will be released into the market. However, the percentage of smart watch interface products among the company’s products remains unclear. In fact, Google Glass employs interface technology from Synaptics.
In comparison to smartphones and tablets, the much smaller surface area of a watch poses as the greatest challenge, which in turn limits its performance scope and functions. Hence, Synaptics might develop 3D touch technology (such as gesture sensing) to better suit the smart watch. For example, fingers are placed at specific areas around the watch to activate its special features.
When questioned about IoT, Bergman stated that the company has been working closely with display manufacturers such as Chi Mei (there are actually several important display manufacturers in Asia, which is also why Synaptics places such a heavy emphasis on Asia), so they are confident that the display manufacturers selected by manufacturers of IoT products will most likely be using solutions from Synaptics.
Synaptic products are currently being used in smart TV remote control displays as well.