SAN FRANCISCOóThe market for mobile memory chips is expected to grow a modest 6 percent this year to reach $14.9 billion thanks to healthy growth in the markets for smartphones and tablets, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.
The El Segundo, Calif.-based market watcher currently forecasts that the mobile memory market will grow by a larger 9 percent tp $16.2 billion in 2013 as more smartphone and tablet products requiring higher memory densities come into the marketplace. By 2015, mobile memory revenue will peak at $17.9 billion, according to the IHS forecast.
IHS's mobile memory forecast includes the flash memory segments of NAND and NOR, the NAND sub-segment of embedded multimedia card (eMMC), as well the mobile dynamic random access memory (DRAM) sector.
"The mobile space has been the engine for overall memory growth in the last few years, and it continues to shape and define the success of suppliers participating in the memory market," said Michael Yang, senior principal analyst for memory and storage at IHS, in a statement. "Given the ongoing passion of consumers for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, the outlook for mobile memory remains exceedingly optimistic."
Mobile NAND flash revenue is expected to grow 14 percent this year compared to 2011, reaching $10.5 billion, according to IHS. Mobile NAND flash revenue this year will be 50 percent of the entire NAND market of $21 billion, IHS projects.
Smartphones are the primary driver of NAND flash consumption, especially in memory-hungry Android handsets, whose operating systems require significantly more flash memory than that of their main competitor, the iPhone iOS from Apple Inc., IHS said. Android handsets are projected to consume approximately 54 percent share of overall flash memory usage in the smartphone space, compared to 18 percent for the iPhone,IHS said.
The eMMC segment of mobile NAND is projected to account for $3.7 billion, up from $2.8 billion in 2011, IHS said. In particular, eMMC has become a viable mobile memory solution for high-end markets like smartphones and tablets, in which high-density storage capacity is required along with low-power consumption and a small footprint, according to IHS.
Mobile DRAM revenue is expected to reach $6.6 billion this year, up 12 percent from $5.9 billion in 2011, IHS said. The future of mobile DRAM looks bright, as it is projected to account for more than 32 percent of all DRAM bits shipped in 2015, up from a 6.2 percent share in 2009, IHS said.
Revenue from mobile NOR flash chips is expected ot decline to $1.5 billion this year from $1.8 billion in 2011, according to IHS. NOR, Which continues to decline amid weakness in several key segments, is the only segment of the mobile memory market that is expected trend downward this year, IHS said.
For the embedded memory segment that makes up part of the total mobile and embedded memory market, optimism is returning with PCs forecast to enjoy a resurgence, buoyed by Intel Corp.ís strong push of its Ultrabook platform as well as the expected launch of Windows 8 by Microsoft Corp. later this year, IHS said. With high-volume projections being made for media tablets this year, the fortunes of the embedded memory market are looking up as well, according to IHS.
Overall, the embedded market still represents almost 5 billion NOR units in shipments projected for 2012, with a five-year compound annual growth rate in excess of 4 percent forecast through 2016, IHS said.