Gyroscope MEMS depose accelerometers in 2011 revenues

March 1, 2012 — Gyroscopes generated more revenues in 2011 than any other consumer/mobile micro electro mechanical system (MEMS), thanks to enthusiastic adoption of Apple Inc. iPhone and iPad devices late in the year. This was the first time gyroscopes topped accelerometers in consumer/mobile MEMS revenues, reports IHS.

Gyroscopes netted $655.4 million in 2011, up 66% from $394.5 million in 2010. The devices will bring in $1.1 billion by 2015, maintaining a lead over accelerometers ($705 million by 2015).

Figure. Worldwide gyroscope MEMS revenue forecast in consumer/mobile MEMS sector. SOURCE: IHS iSuppli Research, March 2012.

Of all consumer/mobile motion sensors in 2011, 41% were gyroscopes, by revenue, up from 24% in 2010. The total mobile motion sensor market hit $1.6 billion, up from $1.1 billion the prior year.

3-axis gyroscopes, used mostly in tandem with 3-axis accelerometers, are enabling more accurate motion sensing. Gyroscopes improve the motion-based interface, and can provide optical image stabilization and navigation-related functions. "Of the $655 million total revenue generated by the gyroscope space, the 3-axis segment accounted for $462 million, 71%," in 2011, said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and senior principal analyst for MEMS & sensors at IHS. Apple, with its smartphone (iPhone) and tablet (iPad) products, was the main consumer, buying 62% of 3-axis gyroscopes.

STMicroelectronics was the leading producer of both gyroscopes and accelerometers. Apple accounts for half of ST’s MEMS business, and the company is the sole source for gyroscopes and accelerometers for the iPhone and iPad.

Combo packages of 3-axis accelerometers and gyroscopes — 6-axis inertial measurement units (IMU) — will dominate in the sales of 3-axis gyroscopes by 2014. "Surprisingly compact" 6-axis compass modules (compass + accelerometer) are coming to market now, as are 9-axis IMUs with 3-axis electronic compasses added to 6-axis IMUs. Bosch Sensortec and InvenSense have introduced a 6-axis compass module and a 9-axis IMU, respectively.

In general, motion sensors like gyroscopes, accelerometers and electronic compasses will continue to rule consumer and mobile MEMS, the largest segment of an industry that includes other MEMS sectors such as automotive, medical, industrial, and aerospace and defense. Aside from smartphones and tablets, expect to find consumer-app motion sensors in TV remote controls and ultrabook laptops. By 2015, both TV remote control and ultrabook applications will add another $155 million in revenue derived from the use of accelerometers, gyroscopes and electronic compasses, up from $9 million in 2011.

Intel is recommending accelerometers, gyroscopes, electronic compasses and even pressure sensors for its ultrabooks, although some combinations will only be seen in convertible ultrabooks — those with a screen that can be flipped back to form a tablet.

MEMS microphones, also appearing in Apple’s mobile electronics, saw rapid growth in 2011. Apple uses two analog MEMS microphones in the iPhone 4 and 4S (MEMS mics provide voice suppression with Siri), along with one MEMS microphone in the headset that is sold with the phone. In addition, one digital MEMS microphone is present in the iPad 2. Revenue in 2011 for MEMS microphones reached $373 million, up 67% from $223 million in 2010.

Also read: Apple buys most MEMS microphones in 2011

Knowles Electronics still dominates the MEMS microphone sphere, but its share of shipments in the overall market has fallen from 88% in 2010 to 75% last year. There are now 8 suppliers producing more than 10 million MEMS microphone units each.

MEMS oscillators recently saw a surge of interest, with the entry of 3 big players. Murata, an established supplier of ceramic oscillators, acquired VTI Technologies in October last year. IDT, the leading manufacturer of complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) timing devices, introduced its first MEMS timing product in November. NXP, a supplier of real-time clocks, brought its MEMS timing debut to the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2012.

Read the IHS report, Consumer MEMS Continue to Thrive on Smartphones, Tablets and Ultrabooks, at

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