MEMSahibs rule roost until 2014

Global demand for microelectromagnetical (MEMs) system devices is expected to continue to rise until at least 2014, thanks to continuous demand for smartphones such as the iPhone4.

This is represents somewhat of a turn around for the MEMS industry which was floundering previously to an extent, with two years of decline up until 2010 when revenues rose by 18.3 percent as compared to 2009.

Though this boom will not continue into the coming year, it is expected the market will remain very healthy with near double digit figures of 9.5 percent growth expected, keeping a clear gap between the growth figure of 5.1 percent for the overall semiconductor industry.

However there is further good news for the MEMS market as it is expected that double digit growth will return from 2012 up until 2014, with revenue forecast to shoot up from $5.97 billion in 2009 to $10.81 billion in 2014, according to figures released by iSuppli.

It is thought that cell phones will account for the strongest demand in the next few years, with MEMS revenue expected to reach triple the figure seen in 2009, rising from $1.3bn to $3.73bn in 2014.

It is thought that a driving factor in the massive jump in revenue that is expected is due to the ubiquity of the Apple iPhone4.

“The Apple iPhone 4 was a key milestone for the MEMS market, marking the first cell phone to use a MEMS gyroscope, and one of the first mobile handsets to use two MEMS microphones for noise suppression,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at iSuppli.

“This has had an enormous ‘me-too’ impact on the rest of the cell phone industry, with a flood of companies offering MEMS-equipped handsets.”

Previously only five cell phone models actually utilised MEMS gyroscopes, though this year will see the introduction of more than 45 phones and tablets, most of which will be based on Android OS.

Indeed, like many markets, it is expected that tablets will have a big impact on the future revenueds of the MEMS industry.

This year’s CES saw tablets from Motorola, Acer and other featuring MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes, bulk acoustic wave (BAW) filters and pressure sensors.

Therefore it is entirely believable that tablet will become the second-largest application for MEMS in the consumer and mobile area in 2014.

Bouchaud believes that the MEMS devices will also increasingly find their way into our lives in a number of different ways over the coming years.

According to iSuppli, demand for MEMS is increasingly coming from the economically advancing BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Apparently the stimulus package provided by the Chinese government aimed at promoting fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) will stimulate demand for optical MEMS for fiber optical telecommunications, expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent for the 2009-2014 period.

“The major issues facing society in the 21st century—such as energy, the environment and the aging and health of the population—increasingly are impacting the MEMS market,” Bouchaud said.

“For example, MEMS sensors are being used in the energy sector to help find and tap new energy sources—such as geophones for oil/gas exploration, inertial sensors for measurement-while-drilling, or to maximize current energy resources via improved industrial processes, efficient residential heating and accurate billing systems.”

“But MEMS technology is also helping to address other issues facing society, such as age and obesity, or by offering less invasive monitoring of the elderly or enabling affordable and continuous diagnostics for better, more comfortable drug delivery.”