Two market research firms, IHS and Yole Développement, issued MEMS reports this week, both naming Robert Bosch GmbH as the undisputed No. 1 in the market.
Bosch grew its MEMS revenue by 20% in 2014, with sales revenues totaling $1.2 billion, according to Yole. Yole now calls Bosch a future “MEMS titan,” noting a widening gap between Bosch and STMicroelectronics. The disparity between the two companies now stands at more than $400 million.
The force separating winners from losers in the MEMS market today is Apple. “Apple dictates the ranking of top 10 MEMS manufacturers in 2014,” IHS observed. Bosch took leadership in 2013 thanks to design wins in the Apple iPhone 5s and iPad with its accelerometer. Apple boosted Bosch’s MEMS revenue in 2014 again as Bosch is the sole supplier of pressure sensors added to the iPhone 6 and 6+, IHS explained.
Beyond iPhone, contributing to Bosch’s rise to “titan” status is its history. Eric Mounier, senior technology & market analyst, MEMS Devices and technologies, Yole Développement, told us, “Bosch first consolidated its MEMS auto business to lower cost, and improved technologies such as packaging. Then, they moved to consumer with well-established MEMS technology.” He added, “Having both markets – auto and consumer – allows Bosch to optimize a fab infrastructure.”
With slight differences in the rankings, both market research firms identified Bosch, Texas Instruments, ST, Hewlett-Packard and Knowles as the top five MEMS vendors. Jean-Christophe Eloy, president & CEO at Yole, pointed out that Bosch now holds a third of the $3.8 billion revenue shared by the top five.
Both market research companies noted the rise of Avago and Qorvo – among the MEMS top 10. Yole pinned their “impressive growth” on RF MEMS filters for smartphones.
More specifically, IHS explained that the LTE band has been a boon for Avago and TriQuint (now Qorvo), the two BAW filter makers, especially in 2.3 GHz to 2.7 GHz. BAW devices perform better than SAW filters at these frequencies, and solve the coexistence issues of Wi-Fi and LTE, according to IHS. “The BAW filter market is currently experiencing resurgence thanks to LTE and as the number of bands of in handsets keeps increasing,” the company said.
Yole, looking at different segments of MEMS, noted that the inertial market keeps growing. This growth is beneficial to InvenSense, which continued its rise with a 32% increase in 2014, up to $329 million in revenue.
IHS attributed InvenSense’s jump to its design of the 6-axis motion combo sensor in the iPhone 6 and 6+. InvenSense has also been successful with a gyroscope built into camera modules for optical image stabilization (OIS), the firm added.
Yole, however, said that accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers are not the only devices contributing to MEMS companies’ growth. “Pressure sensors also made a nice contribution, especially in automotive and consumer sectors,” stated Yole. Specifically, Freescale Semiconductor saw a 33% increase in pressure revenue, driven by Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) business for automotive.
Using a historical evolutionary model of the electronics industry, Yole’s Mounier predicted that the MEMS industry will progress in four stages. The MEMS industry, in his opinion, has already passed the first two phases. In “the opening stage,” the top three companies hold no more than 10%-30% market share. In “the scale stage,” the top three increases collective market share, through consolidation, to 45%.
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