PORTLAND, Ore. — The market for micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) microphones will top $1 billion in 2014 for the first time, up 24% from $837 million in 2013, according to IHS Technology in El Segundo, Calif.
And although its growth rate is slowing it will maintain a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% until 2017 when it will top $1.37 billion, according to IHS. Yole Développement cites similar slowing growth rates, predicting a 13% CAGR out to 2019 when the market will top $1.65 billion.
Driving growth today, both reports claim, is the wide adoption of MEMS microphones in mobile devices, especially smartphones and tablets, which are currently using multiple MEMS microphones to cancel ambient noise, to provide high-definition (HD) audio quality for video recordings and to improve the accuracy of voice command functions. Burgeoning new markets for MEMS microphones include Internet of Things (IoT), medical and wearable devices -- including smart watches and smart glasses -- but the top buyers of multiple MEMS microphone set-ups today are smartphone and tablet vendors -- principally Apple and Samsung.
By 2017, total MEMS microphone shipments will top 5.4 billion units up from 1.9 billion in 2012, according to IHS. Yole similarly predicts that shipments will be up to 6.6 billion units by 2019, up from 2.4 billion in 2013.
MEMS microphone market tops $1 billion for first time in 2014 -- and is on-track for $1.37 billion by 2017. (SOURCE: JHS)
Vendors are demanding, and getting, lower signal-to-noise (SNR) specs for sensing the softest sounds, which when combined with a higher maximum sound-pressure level (SPL) provides a wider dynamic range. The market for HD MEMS microphones with the widest dynamic range will grow at a faster rate than conventional MEMS microphones, according to IHS, which predicts that HD MEMS microphones with SNRs of 64 decibels or better will grow at a CAGR of 40% through 2017.
Apple pioneered the way by starting to use HD MEMS microphones with 64 decibel SNRs in its iPhone 5 in 2012, prompting Samsung to follow suite with its subsequent Galaxy S4 and Note 4 handsets, which, according to IHS, together accounted to 96% of the revenue in 2013 for HD MEMS microphones. HD MEMS microphones also enhance the accuracy of voice commands to Apple's Siri and Google's Now, which has prompted other vendors to follow suit, including Motorola which use multiple HD MEMS microphones in its Moto X smartphone, according to IHS.
Besides smartphones and tablets, HD MEMS microphones are also being adopted by automobile makers -- to improve voice command accuracy -- and by hearing aid vendors, notably the ReSound LiNX, which uses two HD MEMS microphones to cancel ambient noise, improve sound clarity and to enable them to double as music headphones using Bluetooth connectivity with the iPhone.
Separately, Invensense Inc. in San Jose, Calif. -- which recently acquired Analog Devices MEMS microphone business -- made a strategic alliance with Sonion A/S in Roskilde, Denmark, to become its primary supplier of MEMS microphones. Sonion will have exclusive rights to sell InvenSense MEMS microphone into the hearing-aid market, but InvenSense will retain the right to continue selling its MEMS microphones into other microphone applications.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times