Putting pressure on competitors
So far, Akustica and Knowles are the only MEMS microphone makers reporting volume shipments. Akustica has been shipping its digital MEMS microphone to laptop makers, whose circuitry was already digital, while Knowles has sold its MEMS microphone into applications that required an analog MEMS mic.
Since then Akustica has announced a single-chip analog MEMS mic that downsized its die to just 1 square millimeter, and Knowles announced a two-chip digital MEMS mic that includes an analog-to-digital converter on its ASIC.
In hopes of luring high-volume cell phone makers into switching from electrets to MEMS mics with the assurance of two sources, Knowles and Akustica have also announced a cross-licensing agreement.
"Analog Devices' entry to the market will put significant pressure on Knowles and Akustica," said Bourne. "Analog Devices and Infineon are sure to snap away significant market share as they will probably become the preferred first and second sources, with the smaller startups left to focus on niche and mid-level applications."
Despite the tough talk from analysts about a small company's inability to manufacture in the hundreds-of-millions unit quantities that market research companies predict to be coming for MEMS microphones in the next few years, Akustica, for one, remains gung ho.
"At the end of the day, the market is so big--with billions of units up for grabs in the next five years--there needs to be more competitors out there to meet all that demand," said Davin Yuknis, vice president of marketing and product management at Akustica. "And as far as we know we are still the only supplier with a single-chip solution, so we plan to take the high road, and not just sell commodities."