SAN FRANCISCO—Texas Instruments Inc. reclaimed the No. 1 position among global microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) suppliers in 2010, five years after losing its grip on the top spot, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.
According to IHS, resurgent demand for TI's digital light processing (DLP) chips helped TI grow MEMS revenue to $793 million in 2010, up 25 percent from 2009. This growth allowed TI to supplant as No. 1 Hewlett-Packard Co., which saw its MEMS sales slip slightly to $782 million in 2010, according to IHS.
"Texas Instruments’ fortunes in the MEMS market have risen and fallen based on the success of its DLP technology,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS, in a statement.
Bouchaud said that until 2005 TI had built a leadership position in MEMS on the popularity of its DLP display technology in rear-projection television sets. But TI then fell from the top spot as demand and pricing for DLP chips dropped because of the disappearance of the rear-projection TV market, Bouchaud said. "Now, with the rising demand for DLPs in front-projectors and pico projectors, Texas Instruments managed to reclaim the lead,” Bouchaud said.
After peaking at $920 million in 2004, TI's DLP revenue dropped by 31 percent during the next six years to $635 million in 2009, according to IHS. The large size of the DLP market sapped the MEMS market’s growth during this period, the firm said.
Much of the renewed demand for DLP chips is being driven by the front projector segment of the business and education markets, especially in China and India, IHS said. In the front projector area, DLP is grabbing market share from LCD technology because of its capability to project 3-D content, IHS said.
DLP is also benefitting from explosive growth in the pico projector market, IHS said. Close to 1 million DLP pico projectors shipped in 2010, IHS estimated.
IHS projects that the recovery in DLP sales will continue during the coming years, with revenue exceeding $1 billion in 2013.
HP dropped to second place in MEMS in 2010 after seeing its MEMS revenue decline by 0.3 percent, IHS said. The stagnant performance was because of the weakness in the inkjet printhead segment, which contracted by 0.8 percent for the year, mostly due to price erosion, according to IHS. HP in 2005 began to transition away from disposable printheads to permanent printheads, IHS said.