Price pressure in the growing audio IC market is leading to consolidation and will continue, according to SensiAn Research. And it is happening top-down with the acquisition of Wolfson Microelectronics by Cirrus Logic.
The market for audio signal chain ICs used in mobile equipment is set to grow by 10.4 percent to hit $2.518 billion in 2014, up from $2.282 billion in 2013, according to market analysis firm SensiAn Research Ltd. (Exeter, England).
In terms of units the market is set to move from about 3.781 billion units shipped in 2013 to 4.512 billion shipped in 2014. Sensian expects the audio IC units market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent to reach 7.3 billion units in 2020.
Cirrus Logic, which has enjoyed much success with Apple iPhone design wins in recent years, led the market in 2013. Cirrus enjoyed 31 percent of the unit market for stand-alone audio codecs and audio hubs in mobile devices in 2013 ahead of Wolfson Microelectronics with 18 percent, according to SensiAn. But with Cirrus in the process of acquiring Wolfson Cirrus could command more than 50 percent of the market by the end of 2014.
Global vendor market shares for stand-alone audio codecs and audio hubs in mobile devices in 2013. (Source: SensiAn Research)
Meanwhile Qualcomm, which integrates much of the audio chain, was on a par with Wolfson in 2013, followed by Yamaha (9 percent), Realtek (5 percent) and Texas Instruments (4 percent). Others took 15 percent of the market.
Over the rest of this decade, the market for standalone audio ICs, for example audio speaker amplifiers, is expected to see growth due to the higher power outputs required while integration is also expected to increase with the use of audio hubs and platform integrated audio becoming commonplace, SensiAn observed.
While the market in terms of units shipments will continue to rise steadily, increased integration and competition will lead to average selling price (ASP) pressure and a fall in stand-alone audio IC revenue from a peak in 2014.
"For many years both Cirrus and Wolfson have been strong competitors in this market," Peter Cooney, principal analyst with SensiAn Research. "With the advent and growth of the smartphone market each has generally relied on separate customers for growth: Cirrus being particularly successful with products used in Apple iPhones and iPads, Wolfson being successful with a wider range of customers including Samsung, LG and Motorola."
Further predictions about the audio IC market to 2020 are provided in a report prepared by SensiAn Research.
— Peter Clarke is the editor of EE Times Europe Analog.
Article originally published on EE Times Europe.