Synaptics wins RIM touch screen business

Synaptics, a maker of touch-screen user interfaces, said Research In Motion is using its clearpad custom module for RIM's upcoming touch-screen phone BlackBerry Storm.

Synaptics' clearpad custom module enables two-finger input on the Storm for functions such as copy and paste, a company spokeswoman said.

RIM, the latest player to enter the touch-screen phone market, said on Wednesday its Storm will be available later this autumn, exclusively to Verizon Wireless customers in the US and Vodafone customers in Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Heidi Poon said Synaptics' touch-screen products will help it offset recent weakness in its PC and consumer electronics segments in the fourth quarter.

"Next year there is going to be broader penetration with more touch-screen products coming up in the market," Poon said.

As handset makers compete to enhance user experience, the demand for touch-screen handsets is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.

The touch-screen phone market got a major boost in 2007 with the launch of Apple's iPhone.

The iPhone success has inspired other big phone makers, such as Taiwan's HTC, South Korea's LG Electronics, Sony Ericsson and Motorola, to jump on the bandwagon.

Synaptics recently won a deal to provide touch-screen sensors and chips for the smartphone G1, which uses Google's Android software and is manufactured by HTC.

"Historically, Synaptics' biggest customers have been Samsung and LG, which are very active with their touch-screen phones in the Asian and European markets," Poon said.

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