Following two years of decline, the MEMS market enjoyed a strong 2010, with revenue rising by 18.3 percent compared to 2009. While growth will decelerate in 2011 after the boom of 2010, revenue still will increase at nearly a double-digit rate, climbing 9.5 percent. This growth will vastly exceed the 5.1 percent expansion of the overall semiconductor industry. And with the MEMS market set to enjoy double-digit growth from 2012 through 2014, market revenue will rise to $10.81 billion in 2014, up from $5.97 billion in 2009.
Cell phones will generate the strongest demand growth during the coming years, with MEMS revenue to the segment rising to $3.73 billion in 2014, nearly triple from $1.30 billion in 2009.
“The Apple iPhone 4 was a key milestone for the MEMS market, marking the first cell phone to use a MEMS gyroscope, and one of the first mobile handsets to use two MEMS microphones for noise suppression,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS. “This has had an enormous ‘me-too’ impact on the rest of the cell phone industry, with a flood of companies offering MEMS-equipped handsets.”
Less than five cell phone models in 2010 included MEMS gyroscopes. This year, however, will see the introduction of more than 45 phones and tablets equipped with gyroscopes—most of them based on the Android operating system.
The “antenna gate” of the iPhone 4 could also have a positive impact on the market for RF MEMS switches and varactors. The problems experienced with the iPhone 4’s antenna highlighted the need for MEMS solutions for antenna tuning/matching.
Tablets also will play a major role in the future of MEMS and sensors. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), tablets presented by Motorola, Acer and other companies featured MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes, bulk acoustic wave (BAW) filters and even pressure sensors. Tablets will be the second-largest application for MEMS in the consumer and mobile area in 2014.
China’s Love of MEMS
Demand for MEMS is soaring in the economically advancing BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—and is becoming a focal point for many regions, particularly in China. In the automotive arena, MEMS sensor revenue for cars in China is set for explosive growth from 2009 to 2014. Digital light processing (DLP) devices in front projectors for education also are driving MEMS growth in China and India.
The stimulus package provided by the Chinese government aimed at promoting fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) will stimulate demand for optical MEMS for fiber optical telecommunications. As a result, this segment will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent for the 2009-2014 period. The deployment of smart meters based on MEMS flow sensors and accelerometers in China is beginning to take off after the government’s plan to focus on its electricity smart grid. In 2011, smart meter sales are expected to soar, benefiting the MEMS market.
A Few Good MEMS
“The major issues facing society in the 21st century—such as energy, the environment and the aging and health of the population—increasingly are impacting the MEMS market,” Bouchaud said. “For example, MEMS sensors are being used in the energy sector to help find and tap new energy sources—such as geophones for oil/gas exploration, inertial sensors for measurement-while-drilling, or to maximize current energy resources via improved industrial processes, efficient residential heating and accurate billing systems.”
“But MEMS technology is also helping to address other issues facing society, such as age and obesity, or by offering less invasive monitoring of the elderly or enabling affordable and continuous diagnostics for better, more comfortable drug delivery.”