The faster consumers figure out which of the coming tablet computers they really like, the better for Maxim Integrated Products (Nasdaq: MXIM). Tablets in general will provide a nice tailwind for the chip designer, but some models will help more than others.

In last night's second-quarter report, Maxim said a robust product pipeline and plethora of recent design wins have positioned the company very well for success in calendar year 2011. Tablet designs obviously play a large part in that prediction as Maxim landed more than 40 wins in that product category last quarter. But the revenue content per unit varies from less than a dollar to as much as $4 per tablet, making it difficult for the company to predict future sales and profits with any accuracy. It will all depend on which particular models win out in the consumer marketplace.

As Maxim moves into more tablets, smartphones, and other connected devices, mixed-signal chips become a larger part of the company's product mix. That high-margin category now contributes more than 30% of Maxim's sales; management intends to keep growing that ratio, but without setting any specific targets.

In that growth effort, Maxim is shooting for many of the same design slots that Linear Technology (Nasdaq: LLTC) and Cypress Semiconductor (Nasdaq: CY) want for their own growth-oriented purposes. The incumbents to beat are often Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) and Analog Devices (NYSE: ADI), industry giants with massive resources and equally impressive product portfolios. But it's a large addressable market and it's growing exponentially these days, leaving plenty of room for several success stories. The deck is not as stacked against Maxim as it would seem at first glance.

In another quarter or two we'll know more about which of Maxim's many customers are making hay, and how that outcome affects company revenue and margins. I think it's safe to say that the stock will see a bump from any clarity at all, even if signs are pointing to the lower end of the opportunity spectrum. Mr. Market hates uncertainty, after all!

Add Maxim to your watchlist so you don't miss a beat in the never-ending quest for total enlightenment.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Cypress Semiconductor is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Linear Technology is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. The Fool owns shares of Texas Instruments. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.