Sensors are a key component in driving the Internet of Things (IoT), which in turn will drive phenomenal growth in the electronics components market for the foreseeable future. Sensor technology continues to evolve, and sensors that measure more than one input—heat, light, liquid, motion etc.-- on a single device are poised to soon overtake discrete sensors, according to market research firm Yole Développement (Yole).
The market for combo sensors is expected to reach $1.4 billion in 2019, Yole reports, driven largely by cellphones, tablets and wearable electronics. Four companies hold the lion’s share (75 percent) of the inertial MEMS share of the market for this technology: STMicroelectronics, InvenSense, Bosch Sensortec, and AKM.
STM is still the global leader in the inertial consumer sensor market with 40 percent market share. InvenSense and Bosch Sensortec are not yet significant competitors. However, InvenSense has been growing strongly, reaching more than 12 percent market share, going ahead of Bosch in the inertial market. “The ‘big 4’, including AKM, are preparing for the future, with InvenSense holding an advantage as it seems to be ahead in the competition on 9-axis sensors, which are found in a large numbers of products in development, including Google Glass,” says Guillaume Girardin, Technology & Market Analyst, MEMS & Sensors at Yole Développement.
For buyers, he adds, the news is good: “Prices are still dropping sharply, with 6-axis IMUs sold to some large volume customers at less than $1 in 2013.” To stay in the race, leaders are going to introduce technical innovations: monolithic integration of 6-axis IMUs into 9-axis IMUs, TSVs, chip scale packaging, and active capping, Yole adds.
Current challengers and newcomers are eyeing this combo opportunity and expect to take market share, even though the supply chain is consolidating. Kionix, Freescale, Alps Electric, Fairchild, Maxim and more than 10 other companies are targeting this market space, but the leaders are well established and competition is hard. New business models are developing and more fabless companies are likely to be involved in the combo market, the research firm adds.
The combo sensor market is estimated at $420 million in 2013 and $585 million in 2014, growing to $1.4 billion in 2019. This represents 28 percent of the global inertial consumer market in 2014, and will grow to almost 60 percent by 2019. “While smartphones and tablets are still driving volume increases and adoption of combos, the picture should be different in 2019,” said Dr. Eric Mounier, Senior Analyst, MEMS Devices & Technologies at Yole. “Combo sensors will take a significant portion of total market share, but opportunities will remain for discrete sensors, from accelerometers used in basic activity trackers to gyroscopes for camera module stabilization,” he adds.
Yole has recently published the report “6&9 Axis Sensors Consumer Inertial Combos”. More information is available on http://www.i-micronews.com/mems-sensors-reports.html.