Defying the downturn in the overall electronics industry, the market for Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) used in consumer electronics and wireless products is expected to generate 6.4 percent growth in 2009, according to iSuppli Corp. Global consumer and wireless MEMS revenue will amount to $1.24 billion in 2009, up from $1.17 billion in 2008. This contrasts sharply with the 23 percent decline in overall semiconductor revenue expected in 2009. It also flies in the face of the predicted 8.2 percent and 13.1 percent drops in consumer electronics and wireless equipment revenue in 2009.
“On the consumer side, gyroscopes are helping to drive the growth of MEMS, with revenue rising at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18 percent from 2008 to 2013,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst for MEMS at iSuppli. “These devices are used in products including controllers for video game consoles. As the market for multi-axis gyroscopes develops and these components hit target insertion prices, the market will accelerate for gaming and will pick up for cell phone camera image stabilization as early as 2010.”
On the wireless side, growth is being driven by MEMS accelerometers for mobile phones. Owing to the essential role they play in the user interfaces of hot smart phones like Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Palm Inc.’s Pre, accelerometers are expected to appear in one-third of mobile phones shipped next year, up from one-fifth in 2009, according to iSuppli.
In such smart phones, accelerometers support features like screen-orientation adjustment when the handset is turned to the side. These capabilities now are spreading beyond smart phones to other types of handsets.
Other MEMS products experiencing fast growth in the wireless market include Bulk Acoustic Wave (BAW) filters used in for CDMA and UMTS phones, whose unit shipments grew faster than 50 percent in terms of units in the first half of the year. The downside of this fast MEMS unit growth is rapid price erosion. Accelerometers in cell phones now sell for 25 percent to 30 percent less than one year ago. Suppliers that are the most aggressive on pricing are gaining the largest market share.
iSuppli notes that the MEMS microphone market will experience its first annual drop in revenue in 2009, but will recover to double-digit annual growth rates starting in 2010. Other MEMS devices of note are RF MEMS switches and varactors, which should go into production for cell phones in the fourth quarter of 2009 or in the first quarter of 2010.
More information: Consumer MEMS Markets Hold Promise Despite Global Downturn