LAKE WALES, Fla. — The market for microphones based on microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices will reach the $1 billion milestone, or 5 billion units, this year, up from $993 million in 2016, according to a report from Yole Développement (Lyon, France). Yole further predicts that the electret microphone (ECM) market will hit $700 million this year, edging the combined revenue tally for MEMS and ECM mics close to $2 billion by year’s end.
Yole Development predicts that 2017 will set a new milestone for MEMS audio device sales of $1billion for 5 billion unit sales rising to $20 billion in 2022.
The study, “Acoustic MEMS and Audio Solutions 2017,” further estimates the microspeaker market at nearly $8.7 billion and states that the audio microchip market, including codecs, DSPs, and amplifiers, already exceeds $4.3 billion.
Yole says Vesper VM1000 MEMS microphones is leading the way with its piezoelectric-powered superior signal-to-noise ratio.
“From mobile phones to cars, from home assistants to drones, audio components like MEMS microphones, ECMs, speakers, and audio integrated circuits are essential for key functions of those existing and new products,” study author Guillaume Girardin, technology and market analyst for MEMS and sensors at Yole, told EE Times in an exclusive interview.
Girardin’s report for Yole traces the evolution of the markets for MEMS microphones, ECMs, microspeakers, and audio ICs since 2010. “The recent focus of all big consumer electronics players on audio features testifies to the importance of the audio device market, which will be worth $20 billion by 2022,” he told EE Times. “There’s clearly room for more added value in the audio value chain regarding hardware and software—smarter microphones, algorithms, DSPs, codecs, and microspeakers—which will enhance audio capabilities and drive us to a voice-powered future.”
The evolution of the three audio functions, microphones, speakers and audio ICs, technical trends, and the evolution of strategies to capture a larger part of this fast-growing field, according to Yole.
Reports by SystemPlus Consulting and KnowMade, meanwhile, include reverse engineering and cost analysis of the market’s first piezoelectric MEMS microphone, the Vesper VM1000. And in a freely available Q&A exchange with Yole titled “The Future is Voice Powered,” Vesper CEO Matt Crowley revealed Vesper’s strategy and described the features of its piezoelectric approach to MEMS microphones.
The companies can win a segment in the evolution of the total MEMS for audio landscape that we can expect for the next five years, according to Yole.
SystemPlus tore down and analyzed the Knowles, STMicroelectronics, and Goertek MEMS microphones in the Apple iPhone 7-Plus. KnowMade, in turn, used that teardown to reveal the basis of Knowles’ patents and intellectual-property litigation involving those patents in “Knowles MEMS Microphones in Apple iPhone 7 Plus Patent-to-Product mapping.”
The reports collectively conclude that voice, and audio in general, is becoming a key function of consumer, automotive, and industrial applications and is being incorporated into a diverse ecosystem of related acoustic areas. According to Yole, the MEMS microphone market got an extra boost by the use of multiple mics per device—four in the iPhone 7 Plus—contributing to the audio business’ projected 6 percent compound annual growth rate to 2022. As such, the audio supply and value chain will become increasingly important to what Girardin calls our voice-powered future.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times