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Electronics Production | February 04, 2011

Tablets become fastest-growing MEMS market in 2011

Driven by soaring demand for Apple's iPad and Android-based alternatives, media tablets in 2011 are expected to be the fastest-growing market for MEMS in the consumer electronics and mobile segment, according to IHS iSuppli.
Sales of MEMS for use in tablets will rise to USD 140.4 million this year, up 373% from a mere USD 29.7 million in 2010. By 2014, tablets will become the second-largest application for MEMS sensors in the consumer and mobile space after cell phones, with revenue of USD 280 million.

The consumer electronics and mobile market for MEMS in 2011 will grow by more than 25%. This will nearly equal the growth rate of 2010, when the industry recovered robustly following the economic crisis of 2009.

Revenue in 2011 for MEMS sensors and actuators used in various consumer and mobile devices—including cell phones and tablets—will reach USD 2.07 billion, up 26.2% from USD 1.64 billion last year. The growth will continue the 27.1% expansion of 2010 after the market retreated to single-digit growth in 2009 given the economic slowdown. The five-year market prospects call for growth by a factor of nearly three to USD 3.71 billion in 2014, up from USD 1.13 billion in 2009, translating into a solid compound annual growth rate of 23.6% during the time period.

Top MEMS use among consumer devices

Among consumer and mobile devices, cell phones will command the largest share of MEMS use in 2011, projected to reach USD 1.1 billion. Cell phone sales will continue to expand during in the years to come, and both conventional handsets as well as smart phones will employ an ever-larger number of MEMS devices.

Video gaming, while still the second-largest application for consumer MEMS this year at USD 229.7 million, is on a path of steady decline because of market saturation and declining prices for MEMS devices for the sector. Revenue will rebound in 2014 when next-generation gaming platforms are introduced, breathing new life into the segment.

Other important markets for consumer MEMS in 2011 are cameras, projectors, laptops, MP3 players and televisions.

Top MEMS devices by type

Utilized in devices like mobile phones and tablets but also in gaming, cameras, laptops and remote controls, accelerometers this year will continue to hold the pole position among all consumer MEMS devices. Revenue from accelerometers in 2011 will exceed USD 500 million, with cell phones accounting for the majority of accelerometer shipments from now until at least 2014.

Catching up fast to accelerometers are 3-axis gyroscopes, in second place this year with revenue also in excess of $500 million, thanks to their use in the iPhone 4 from Apple and the PlayStation Move game controller from Sony Corp as well as in handheld game players—e.g. the Nintendo 3DS and the new PSP from Sony. By 2014, accelerometers and gyroscopes will figure in a neck-and-neck finish, with the combined market for both devices reaching a market-commanding USD 1.6 billion.

Other best-selling MEMS devices in 2011 will include bulk acoustic wave filters, which will benefit from the increasingly widespread use of next-generation 4G wireless technology; MEMS microphones, predominant in noise-suppression technology made popular by the Droid smart phone from Motorola Corp as well as the iPhone 4; and digital light processing (DLP) chipsets, currently enjoying a renaissance with the advent of tiny pico projectors.

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