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Sensors Growing at Phenomenal Rates with Deep Penetration across Sectors


Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are seeing another very robust year and five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) forecast, thanks to the hot demand for tablet PCs, smartphones and other handheld media devices.

As a result of the consumer and mobile devices market for MEMS, the sensor market "is set to generate record growth in 2011 […]  Revenue in 2011 for consumer and mobile MEMS will hit [US] $2.25 billion, up a best-ever expansion level of 37 percent" according to iSuppli's research here, here, and here.  This growth rate translates to a five-year forecasted CAGR of 22.5%, based on the iSuppli research here

The deep penetration rates for MEMS in today's smart wireless devices (SWDs) are the cornerstone of the sensor market, with HIS iSuppli research here estimating 95%-96% penetration rate for accelerometers and compasses respectively in smartphones and increasing penetration rates in feature phones and some tablets now.  This penetration rate increase moves MEMS to becoming (if not already being) a standard component and feature set.

Motion sensors are the MEMS subsector that are currently gaining market share at the fastest pace.  Based on the tablet PCs, media tablets and smartphone rapid growth, "a total of 4 billion motion sensors will ship in smartphones and media tablets in 2015, up nearly fivefold from 864 million in 2010," based on this iSuppli research.  The continued high demand for motion sensors by consumers, particularly for gaming and map rotation, are leading to more elaborate feature uses of motion sensors which will, in turn, increase the capabilities, adoption and penetration rates of this class of MEMS.

Growth for MEMS is not the domain of the latest and greatest though; one of the more mature sensor classes, automotive sensors, continues to see strong growth and penetration rate increases as well.  However, due to the Japanese natural disasters this March, automotive MEMS will see a slight slowdown compared to original forecasts for 2011.  According to iSuppli here, 2011's YoY growth is less than average, but is set to recover and continue a strong CAGR through 2015:

"Global revenue this year for the automotive MEMS sensor market is projected to reach [US] $1.99 billion, up just 4 percent from [US] $1.91 billion in 2010. This compares to last year’s 28 percent expansion over 2009 revenue of [US] $1.49 billion. Automotive MEMS unit shipments in 2011 likewise are set for relatively tepid growth, up only 9 percent to 750.7 million units, compared to a 36 percent increase last year."

Supporting the forecasts for strong automotive MEMS CAGR through 2015 are the numerous safety mandates that continue to roll across global markets and come into effect.  Coupling the forecasted recovery in vehicle production with the enactment and fulfillment of the next wave of safety mandates, namely tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), electronic stability control (ESC), airbags and manifold air pressure, iSuppli's research provides rather conclusive data supporting the continued volume and revenue growth for companies along the auto MEMS value chain globally.

Read more about sector standings, opportunities and growth trajectories in Smith's upcoming MarketWatch Quarterly due out next week to subscribers (free subscription available here) and in early October to the general public here

Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.
Written on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 13:04 by Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.

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