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iPhone and iPad sales drive gyroscope revenue to $655million

iPhone and iPad sales drive gyroscope revenue to $655million

Record iPhone and iPad sales during the final quarter of last year resulted in gyroscopes becoming the top revenue generator in 2011 for the consumer and mobile segment of the MEMS market, according to IHS iSuppli.

According to a report by the market analyst, gyroscopes netted $655.4million in 2011, up 66% from $394.5m in 2010. Having been a long term runner up in its category, gyroscopes ?nally displaced accelerometers last year. IHS believes gyroscopes will continue to reap top revenue honours in the next few years, taking in $1.1billion by 2015.

The analyst reports that in 2011 the devices accounted for 41% of revenue for all kinds of motion sensors in consumer and mobile applications, including accelerometers and electronic compasses, worth $1.6bn. This compared to a 24% share in 2010 when overall motion sensor revenue stood at $1.1bn.

According to IHS, the success of gyroscopes was in large part due to the boom in 3-axis versions of the device, used mostly in tandem with 3-axis accelerometers for more accurate motion sensing. While accelerometers are responsible for correctly orienting phones and tablets to the viewer's perspective whether the devices are held vertically or horizontally, gyroscopes improve the motion based interface, especially for gaming. Emerging applications for gyroscopes in smartphones also include optical image stabilisation and navigation related functions.

Jérémie Bouchaud, analyst at IHS, said: "Smartphones and media tablets are by far the main adopters of the 3-axis gyroscope, and the blockbuster sales of the iPhone and iPad in the fourth quarter of 2011 boosted the 3-axis gyroscope market. Of the $655m total revenue generated by the gyroscope space, the 3-axis segment accounted for $462m, or 71 percent. Apple was the main consumer, accounting for 62% consumption of 3-axis gyroscopes, with other manufacturers like Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics also ramping up their adoption of the device last year."

Among suppliers, STMicroelectronics was the leading producer of both gyroscopes and accelerometers, with Apple accounting for half of the company's MEMS business in 2011. STMicroelectronics is the sole supplier of gyroscopes and accelerometers for the iPhone and iPad.

"Moving forward, con?gurations known as 6-axis inertial measurement units (IMU) featuring three accelerometers and three gyroscopes in one 'combo' package will dominate in the sales of 3-axis gy-roscopes by 2014 at the latest," added Bouchard. "Altering the market landscape for combo sensors also is a slew of recent product announcements for surprisingly compact 6-axis compass modules comprising a compass and an accelerometer in the same package, as well as 9-axis IMUs with 3-axis electronic compasses added to 6-axis IMUs. Bosch Sensortec and InvenSense have introduced a 6-axis compass module and a 9-axis IMU, respectively, with a very small form factor."

Chris Shaw

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