Gregory A. Quirk, Semiconductor Insights
Jan 30, 2006 (5:00 AM) -- commsdesign.com
With sexy styling, an ultra-thin design, and an easy-to-use interface, Apple's the iPod has energized the personal audio player market, making it the latest trendy product being purchased by people of all ages. Not surprisingly, Apple and its partners have introduced a wide array of peripherals that enable owners to personalize their iPods and extend their use. Accessibility has expanded into to the car, as well as to the home and office, with RF transmitters, docking stations, and a multitude of external speaker options.
In addition to giving users many ways to use and personalize their iPods, Apple's strategy includes rapidly bringing new products to market to address different price points, size niches, and with the recent latest iPod Video introduction, new capabilities to keep the competition in the distance.
For the semiconductor companies enabling the iPod family's functionality, they share in the huge sales and marketshare enjoyed by Apple. Apple has remained loyal to the same audio suppliers as with the first-generation iPod, but with different versions of their products. The only exception is the iPod Video, in which Apples has introduced a new supplier to support new functionality.
For the audio processing, PortalPlayer provides several variants of its PP50xx family, depending on the specific iPod model. All PortalPlayer's devices also support peripherals and control, such as memory, USB, and hard-disk interfaces (see the figure). For the audio codec, Wolfson Microelectronics provides multiple versions.
The new supplier enabled by the iPod Video is Broadcom. Its BCM2722 facilitates the video decoding and processing.