Comments on the MEC 2009 MEMS Market Analyst Panel

Contributed by Paul Werbaneth, VP Marketing and Applications, Tegal Corporation

I’m mostly never an early adopter. Very often, I’m a wait-and-see kind of guy when it comes to things like digital cameras, smartphones, booking travel on the internet. Blogging.

But once I get a head of steam up and actually pull the trigger I can become the most enthusiastic of proselytizing converts. (Want to know about my Nikon D40?)

So I’m a little surprised when I hear frequent references Friday morning during the MEMS Market Analyst Panel (Jeremie Bouchaud) to how good the smartphone market is going to continue to be to MEMS, moving forward into 2010.  I guess I’m actually not the last person in the world to buy an iDroidPrePhone (I’m the first in my family to do so, actually).  Of course I won’t be replacing my phone anytime soon, because I’m pretty attached to it now, but there are about 800 million other consumers in line behind me waiting to buy a new, or first, smartphone. And that’s exactly the kind of demand that’s going to fill up the depreciated 8” fabrication lines now being repurposed for MEMS manufacturing.  Not to mention fill lots of 6” MEMS fabs along the way.

Other notes from the market panel:  we’ll be seeing more MEMS acquisitions and roll-ups in 2010 says J.C. Eloy, a la the Rohm – Kionix and the Bosch – Akustica deals we recently witnessed.

Even in a down market there are brilliant opportunities.  That’s the carpe diem spirit Roger Grace highlighted.  Think outside the chip (and get your MEMS packaging and test costs down below the 60% – 70% total product cost they are now).

“MEMS is about a two hour total fab business for TSMC.”  I wonder what they do with the other 8758 hours of the year?  (Get ready for 300mm TSV is part of it, I hear.)

(Important note to self:  never use a twenty-nine slide slidedeck for a five minute corporate update / introduction.  It’s just plain disrespectful.)

I’m hoping that many of the non-optical sensors Gartner (Steve Ohr) are tracking actually make it into the Smart Grid or into Environmental Sensing.  Based on recent accidents on the new S-Curve portion of the San Francisco Bay Bridge a few smart sensors telling harried truck drivers and motorcyclists to just slow things down would be a very reasonable deployment.

So what’s the hot hip look in 2010?  I hear it’s better and better smartphones, it’s silicon microspeakers, it’s a MEMS-based DC-to-DC inverter for power management, it’s autonomous sensing.

I’ve been to a few events (a few too many!) that seemed kind of down this year over years last, but this 2009 MEMS Executive Congress has really been energizing.  The MEMS Industry Group team (Karen Lightman, Jan Paul, Monica Takacs, with an assist from Maria Vetrano) did a wonderful job planning, organizing, and putting on the Congress, the keynote speakers were inspiring, the panelist and panel session moderators were witty and engaging, and the attendees were highly enthusiastic, active, participants, which always seems to me the most important part of get-togethers like this one.

On to Scottsdale in 2010!

From Sonoma, CA, thanks for reading …..

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