Feb 20, 2018

Thoughts from the Field: an interview with Brendan Schaffer, Director of Business Development at Sony Semiconductor

Last modified on April 17, 2022

Brendan Schaffer, Director of Business Development at Sony Semiconductor, has been with Altair for over seven years. In that time, he has seen the company evolve from a young broadband LTE startup into an internationally recognized leader in the cellular IoT space.

Now, two years after Altair became part of Sony Semiconductor, we caught up with Brendan on his recent visit to Altair’s corporate headquarters with Sony’s international sales teams, for an annual Altair product marketing seminar. Here is his take on how things are going:

In the two years since Altair became part of Sony, how has the market changed?

Brendan: The markets for IoT devices continue to expand. If you look around at the competitive landscape, a lot has changed over the last few years. Suddenly, a number of companies who were expected to be major players in the LPWA (Low-Power Wide-Area) space are no longer around. What once felt like a crowded market has now become a three-horse race. Altair is one of those horses.

Can you elaborate?

Brendan: Take, for example, Intel. Widely expected to be one of the big hitters for low-powered chipsets, it’s now out of the race. Of the three still in the game, only two are providing dual-mode LTE-M/NB-IoT modems with the option of a 2G fallback – Altair (through our partnership with Sierra Wireless) and Qualcomm. Five years ago, no one would have imagined this. So, from that perspective, a lot has changed.

What about the Sony angle? What has the acquisition done for your standing in the market?

Brendan: Obviously, the Sony acquisition has had a huge impact. We’re now part of an (approximately) $8 billion semiconductor company. As a result, we have now become a highly credible player, with deep pockets and a considerable amount of IP.

Can you talk more about the Sony impact?

Brendan: We have been honored to be part of Sony since 2016, and we have played a key role in the company’s core business.
As an upstart in the LTE space, customers had natural concerns about potential insolvency and our commitment to business. No one is worried about this now, and there are no concerns about us executing on our agreements. This significantly improves our competitive positioning

What about the future? What will Sony mean, in terms of your products in the next 12 to 18 months?

Brendan: We were already developing superior technology, resulting in the smallest, most integrated and lowest power chipsets on the market.
As we witness the incredible growth of IoT adoption, LTE-M & NB-IoT  are fast emerging as the leading LPWAN technology for a wide range of IoT use cases that simply weren’t possible before. thanks to new efficiencies in cost, power usage and form factor.

We expect to see great innovations in the field of IoT as we continue to make it easier for machines to talk to each other and to build AI capabilities directly into our solutions. Now we have access to Sony’s IP, we can expect to see some very exciting things in the future.

Any final thoughts?

Brendan: Only that two years after joining Sony Semiconductor, things could not be better. We are in the space that we want to be in, with the capital that we need. Most importantly, we have the right product at the right time, and with the necessary infrastructure to support it.

Altair and Sony teams meet at the Western Wall, Jerusalem