Fast growing inertial sensor and microfluidics demand will drive a doubling of the MEMS market to $21 billion by 2017, as total unit shipments ramp at a 20% CAGR.
Contributed by Yole Développement
By Eric Mounier, Senior Analyst, MEMS Devices & Technologies, Yole Développement and Laurent Robin, Activity Leader, Inertial MEMS Devices & Technologies, Yole Développement
MEMS will continue to see steady, sustainable double digit growth for the next six years,with 20% compound average annual growth in units and 13% growth in revenues, to become a $21 billion market by 2017. That’s a slight slowdown from the industry’s 17% jump in 2011, as the initial rush of adoption of inertial sensors in smart phones cools a bit, inertial sensor prices continue to fall, and demand for inkjet heads slips a bit more. We expect continued strong growth in motion sensing and microfluidics means those sectors will increasingly come to dominate the MEMS market totals, making up almost half of the overall market in 2017, with accelerometers, gyros, magnetometers and combos accounting for about 25% of the total, and microfluidics for 23%.
Strong growth to continue in inertial sensors, 3-axis gyro remains the hot consumer product
There’s plenty of room for the motion sensor market to grow for at least the next three years, as penetration increases in growing end markets, for a $5.2 billion opportunity by 2017. But competition, falling prices, maturing markets and increasing integration also mean overall CAGR in this large market will be held to about 8%.
On the consumer side, accelerometers are already in almost all smart phones, but the overall cell phone market is still growing quickly, projected to grow by another 1 billion units by 2017. More of these phones will also be smart phones, the total likely doubling from 450 million to 900 million within the next three years, and MEMS are also now starting to be designed into more feature phones as well. The penetration of gyros jumped from 9% of smart phones in 2010 to 36% in 2011. Within two to three years, however, every smart phone will have a gyro.
Many phones may in fact start to have two gyros, as phone makers increasingly see image stabilization as a key way to differentiate their products with better photo quality. InvenSense targets the camera module suppliers with for its precision gyro for image stabilization, arguing it makes things easier for the phone maker. STMicroelectronics offers a dual core solution instead, with both a high precision sensor for image stabilization and one more suited to gaming in a single package, but as this requires a more complex ASIC it may not necessarily be the cheaper solution.
AKM still dominates the magnetometer business with some 78% market share with its Hall-based device, and tight integration into the InvenSense modules and software. But other suppliers, from STMicroelectronics and Robert Bosch to MEMSIC, argue that their alternative technologies are more accurate and use less power, and that they can better integrate the devices they make themselves.
The market for combo sensors started in 2011, with 6-axis accelerometer and magnetometer combo units with a single ASIC shipped in volume, and 6-axis accelerometer and gyro units now starting to do so as well, often for only a small additional cost for the accelerometers. Stand alone components are still by far the biggest business, but in two to three years successful companies will be selling 6X or 9X devices.
To better track these important developments, we have broken out a separate category for combo sensors in our market data and forecasts this year. We believe that the market for discrete sensors will begin to decline, but the growth for combo solutions will be huge. Though currently less than a $100 million niche, we expect combos to be a $1.7 billion opportunity by 2017.