September 18, 2014

34 Weeks of OHA #28

Company Name: Synaptics, Inc.

How the OHA site classifies them: Semiconductor Company

What the OHA site says about them: Synaptics, Inc., providing easy-to-use interface solutions for mobile phones, personal media players, notebooks and PC peripherals, supplies a variety of user input solutions for mobile devices that make accessing digital content easy and fun.

What they do: They’re the touchpad folks. Got a laptop? Does it have a touchpad? Betcha Synaptics built it. They own more than 50% of the laptop market worldwide, and almost 100% of the US market.

I dare you to name another touchpad company. Go ahead. Try it. Okay, I’ll give you a hand: the other major manufacturers are Alps and Cirque. I had an Alps touchpad once. It sucked. It was kinda like a shark’s skin in that it would slice your finger right open if you rubbed it the wrong way.

Synaptics does more than just your straight-up rectangular laptop touchpad. They do ‘em Round and Glowy and stuff. They do ‘em with bumps and ridges and ribs for your pleasure. They’ll also put their touchpads in pretty much whatever device you want: iPods, UMPCs, etc. They’ve taken the touchpad concept beyond mouse emulation to drive those touch-sensitive illuminated strips many laptops are now sporting, often used for media control. They do proximity sensors. And, they do clear capacitive touchpads, or as we in the mobile world like to think of them, touchscreens.

What they bring to OHA and Android: From their press release of Nov. 12 announcing their invovlement in the OHA:

Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA), a leading developer of capacitive-based human interface solutions for mobile computing, communications and entertainment devices, today announced that it is providing the software driver to enable touch interfaces for the Androidâ„¢ software development kit (SDK).

Not very exciting is it? Synaptic makes touchpads. Android needs to run touchpads. Synaptics makes drivers for Android. Everyone’s happy. There’s really not much to see here.

I’ll offer the obligatory quote from the OHA quotes page. In this case, it comes from Synaptics’ President and CEO, Francis Lee:

Synaptics is proud to be a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance. Our contribution to the Android platform will help bring dynamic touch UIs to everyone in the mobile market. By creating an open environment conducive to collaboration and partnering, the Alliance will allow key influencers to deliver innovative devices and services to meet the needs of the fast-changing mobile industry

Blah-blah.

There are no game-changing innovations gonna come outta this inclsion in the OHA. Synaptic doesn’t really seem to be bringing anyting new to the table. They just provide some drivers, get some face time out of the OHA inclusion, and get to be the first-choice touchpad provider on any new Android phone produced. Good for them.

And, honestly, probably good for Android. Synaptic is in the position they’re in because they make good stuff. Their touchpads are reliable, functional, and their ubiquity ensures that they always just work. That kind of no-brainer tech is something that a cross-platform OS like Android needs.

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