Market Watch

MEMS Growth Varies by Segment During the First Half

Consumer and mobile sensors soar, high value MEMS shine—but automotive decelerates
The first six months of 2011 saw varying growth rates for the different segments of the microelectrome­chanical systems (MEMS) business, illustrating the increasingly diverse usage of these devices, according to new IHS iSuppli MEMS research from information and analysis provider IHS.

Global MEMS revenue amounted to $3.9 billion in the fi rst half of 2011, up 7.2 percent from $3.6 billion during the same period in 2010. For the entire year of 2011, MEMS rev­enue is forecasted to rise to $7.97 billion, up 11.5 percent from $7.1 billion in 2010.

While automotive sensor sales struggled to match the previous year in terms of growth, the con­sumer and mobile MEMS segments soared. Meanwhile, the high value MEMS market continued to ad­vance at a blistering pace, prompting many companies participating in the automotive market to consider addressing this lucrative segment.

Consumer and Mobile MEMS Market Stays on the Move
Consumer and mobile MEMS sales soared in the first half of 2011.

STMicroelectronics led all companies in this area, enjoying record revenue during the first two quar­ters of the year, up 155 percent in the first half compared to the same period in 2010. These record revenues are being driven by the fast adoption of 3-axis gyroscopes in the booming markets for handsets and tablets, including the iPhone 4, Android smartphones and the iPad.

Furthermore, new consumer and mobile MEMS devices with potentially bright futures were intro­duced in first half of 2011, with Knowles debuting MEMS joysticks for gaming, handsets and tablets and Texas Instruments rolling out a new type of thermopile that measures the temperature of handset and tablet cases next to the processor.

IHS believes that despite the current economic turmoil, the consumer and mobile MEMS market will generate 37 percent annual growth in 2011.

Automotive Sensors Drive in the Slow Lane
The market for automotive MEMS sensors in 2011 is not repeating the post-recession boom seen in 2010, when car sales grew by more than 25 percent. Through the first six months of the 2011, sales were subdued. IHS forecasts that for the full year of 2011, car MEMS sensors will generate growth rates of only 9 percent in shipments and 4 percent in revenues compared to 2010.

This slower growth is the result of several factors, including lost production because of the Japanese earthquake.

The peak of this production impact occurred in the first half of the year. The overall anticipated loss in production will total 2.8 million cars, although 20 percent of this shortfall will be recovered in the second part of the year. This means there will be an increase in automotive MEMS sensor demand in the second half.

The deceleration in growth also is being driven by the timing of safety mandates from various global governments, such as those requiring electronic stability control (ESC). Mandates are essential drivers for automotive MEMS sensor sales. However, many of these mandates have deadlines that are one to two years in the future, allowing OEMs to slow their efforts to equip their cars in 2011, thus reducing demand for sensors.

High Value MEMS Retain Their Value
The industrial, aerospace and medical markets in the first half of 2011 continued the strong growth seen in 2010, with revenue expanding by 31 percent. This has encouraged many sensor companies, burned by the near collapse of the automotive market in 2009, to investigate this as a more stable area of growth, with potentially higher margins.

Growth is generally strong for both accelerometers and gyroscopes in the high-value MEMS market.

Many applications for gyroscopes are found in the industrial market, including machinery, off-road equipment, ships, robots and platform navigation.

Accelerometers are much more widely used than gyroscopes in high-value applications. The fastest growing applications in 2011 include seismic and structural health monitoring of public buildings and bridge monitors.

Optical MEMS for fiber-optical telecommunication experienced an inventory correction in the first half of the year after somewhat overheating in 2010.

Learn More > Bring It On! MEMS Maintains Double Digit Growth Through 2014