LONDON STMicroelectronics has become the leading supplier of MEMS-based accelerometers because of its focus on supplying designers of consumer electronics and wireless products, according to market research group iSuppli.
The global market for these devices is predicted to increase to be worth $1.7 billion in 2013, up from $947.7 million in 2007. And iSuppli says accelerometers will become the top-selling MEMS device application by 2013.
"Due to this rapid sales growth, accelerometers by 2013 will displace the current leading MEMS products—inkjet heads and Digital Light Processing (DLP) chips—to become the dominant type of MEMS device sold worldwide in 2013," said Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst, MEMS, for iSuppli.
"Consumers' desire for motion-sensing in smart phones and video game systems will boost demand for accelerometers," Bouchaud added.
iSuppli notes that three years ago, the top 5 accelerometer suppliers Freescale, Analog Devices, Bosch, VTI and Denso almost exclusively served the automotive market. However, by the end of 2008, STMicroelectronics had taken the lead in accelerometers based on its significant success in supplying the consumer and wireless communications markets.
The Franco-Italian chip group's global accelerometer revenue rose to $220 million in 2008, up by nearly a factor of eight from $29 million in 2007. And the market trackers suggest ST's accelerometer market share rose to 20 percent in 2008, up from 4 percent in 2006.
Although global MEMS revenue is predicted to decline by 8 percent in 2009—the second fall in market history following a 7 percent decrease in 2008—accelerometers will still manage 1.8 percent growth.
iSuppli maintains accelerometer revenue will rise by 14.1 percent in 2010 and continue its double-digit percentage growth in 2011 and 2012.
"A major catalyst for the rise in accelerometer sales is pricing," Bouchaud added. "Accelerometers broke the magic $1 barrier in 2008, making them attractive in a larger number of products. Their prices will continue to decline in the coming years, widening their appeal beyond smart phones to reach the wider mobile handset market."
For this year, revenue from consumer and mobile applications is expected to exceed that of automotive applications. Automotive applications accounted for 40 percent of global accelerometer revenue in 2008, down from 78 percent in 2006.
In contrast, consumer electronics and wireless accelerometer revenue rose from 22 percent to 58 percent during the same period.
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