By outsourcing some manufacturing to third-party foundries like United Microelectronics
Then the chip market took a couple of weird turns, starting with a deep depression, followed by a slingshot-like return to high demand.
The semiconductor industry had followed TI's lead into lower manufacturing investments, often overshooting the "asset-light" model and moving to an entirely "fabless" strategy. This left a handful of chip foundries with the Herculean task of accommodating sudden order increases from each and every one of their clients with little advance notice. Digital-camera chip expert OmniVision Technologies
Meanwhile, Texas Instruments and a couple of other shrewd competitors continued to deliver from their own factories, growing market share against the fashionably fabless crowd. Now they're investing in manufacturing capacity again. Just this week, TI bought $1 billion worth of analog chipmaking capacity from the Japanese arm of memory maker Spansion. It's not the first presumably low-cost, high-value factory TI has snapped up in recent months, and I don't think it'll be the last.
Asset-light turns out to be more flexible than entirely fabless when the chips hit the fan. So if there's one thing to remember in this chip rebound, it's that nobody does asset-light quite like TI. This is a visionary company with an unmatched ability to weather any type of market storm.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. NVIDIA is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.