EL SEGUNDO, USA: When you turn your iPhone to the side and the screen automatically adjusts from portrait to landscape view, there’s an accelerometer at work. When you swing your Wii controller and bowl a virtual strike, there’s an accelerometer at work.
Indeed, accelerometers in recent years have emerged as a critical input device for some of the world’s hottest electronic products, causing shipments to boom. This will make accelerometers the top-selling Microelectromechanical System (MEMS) device by 2013, according to iSuppli Corp.
The global MEMS accelerometer market will expand to $1.7 billion in 2013, up from $947.7 million in 2007, as presented in the figure.Source: iSuppli
“Due to this rapid sales growth, accelerometers by 2013 will displace the current leading MEMS products—inkjet heads and Digital Light Processing (DLP) chips—to become the dominant type of MEMS device sold worldwide in 2013,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst, MEMS, for iSuppli. “Consumers’ desire for motion-sensing in smart phones and video game systems will boost demand for accelerometers.”
The boom in accelerometer demand will come as a boon to the health of the overall MEMS market. Although global MEMS revenue will decline by 8 percent in 2009—the second decline in market history following a 7 percent decrease in 2008—accelerometers will still manage 1.8 percent growth. Accelerometer revenue will rise by 14.1 percent in 2010 and will maintain double-digit percentage growth in 2011 and 2012.
“A major catalyst for the rise in accelerometer sales is pricing,” Bouchaud noted. “Accelerometers broke the magic $1 barrier in 2008, making them attractive in a larger number of products. Their prices will continue to decline in the coming years, widening their appeal beyond smart phones to reach the wider mobile handset market.”
In 2009, revenue from consumer and mobile applications for accelerometers is expected to exceed that of automotive applications. Until now, Automotive has been the biggest application by far for accelerometers, but this area now is suffering from the global collapse of car production.
Automotive applications accounted for 40 percent of global accelerometer revenue in 2008, down from 78 percent in 2006. In contrast, consumer electronics and wireless accelerometer revenue rose from 22 percent to 58 percent during the same period.
STMicroelectronics rides consumer wave to top of accelerometer market
In 2006, the top five accelerometer suppliers -- Freescale, Analog Devices, Bosch, VTI and Denso -- almost exclusively served the automotive market. However, by the end of 2008, STMicroelectronics had taken the lead in accelerometers based on its significant success in supplying the burgeoning consumer and wireless communications markets.
STMicroelectronics’ global accelerometer revenue rose to $220 million in 2008, up by nearly a factor of eight from $29 million in 2007. The company’s accelerometer market share rose to 20 percent in 2008, up from 4 percent in 2006.