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Apple accounts for half of STMicroelectronics' MEMS revenue in 2011

The Top 10 suppliers of MEMS devices for consumer and mobile applications accounted for 86% of the market's overall revenue in 2011, with major Apple supplier STMicroelectronics topping the listing, according to IHS iSuppli.

IHS reports that the Top 10 companies collectively generated some $1.9billion out of a total revenue intake of $2.2bn for consumer and mobile MEMS, the most dynamic and largest MEMS segment. The segment encompasses consumer electronic items such as smartphones and tablets.

According to IHS, combined revenue from the top 10 this year was up 34% from the $1.4bn generated by the 'elite circle' in 2010.

French-Italian supplier ST maintained its status as the top supplier with a 30% share of the overall consumer and mobile MEMS market. The rest of the Top 10 included runner up Knowles Electronics followed by Texas Instruments, Avago Technologies, InvenSense, Bosch, TriQuint Semiconductor, Panasonic, Kionix and Analog Devices.

STMicroelectronics has been number one since 2009, but this year saw an 81% increase in revenue to $638.7million, up from $353.3m in 2010. The company is the top supplier of accelerometers to handsets, tablets, laptops and gaming, with the accelerometer's function serving as a motion sensor. STMicroelectronics is also the only provider of accelerometers and gyroscopes - which help improve the motion based interface of devices for Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods. Apple accounted for half of STMicroelectronics' MEMS revenue in 2011.

Jérémie Bouchaud, analyst at IHS, said: "STMicroelectronics owes its success to early bets that have paid off, IHS iSuppli believes. As the first company to fully believe in the consumer MEMS business even before the iPhone and Nintendo Wii game console arrived STMicroelectronics had no problem ramping up and producing MEMS in mass volume when the market exploded starting in 2007. STMicroelectronics then invested heavily in the development of 3-axis gyroscopes and these parts eventually found their way into the iPhone 4 and into the Move controller for the PlayStation game console from Sony."

According to IHS, part of ST's success also stems from the company's willingness to cooperate with other MEMS companies to shorten time to market, instead of trying to do everything alone. "For instance," said Bouchard, "STMicroelectronics partnered with Honeywell in the electronic compass business, and also collaborated with Omron on MEMS microphones."

Last year, ST shipped an estimated 15million digital MEMS microphones into handsets made by Nokia, as well as into laptops from Hewlett Packard and Taiwanese computer maker Asustek Computer. In the process, it became the top MEMS microphone supplier to Nokia, ahead of former front runner Knowles, achieving the feat in less than one year.

Author
Chris Shaw

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