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MEMS For Cell Phones & Tablets

This publication has been discontinued on June 21, 2014.

From a $2.2B business in 2012 to $6.4B by 2018!


MEMS devices are proliferating in mobile devices. We count 25+ sensors and actuators in production or in development for mobile applications, including MEMS accelerometers, MEMS gyroscopes, magnetometers, 6-axis e-compasses, 6-axis IMU combos, 9-axis combo solutions, silicon microphones, microspeakers, pressure sensors, humidity/temperature sensors, BAW filters and duplexers, MEMS switches and variable capacitors, silicon MEMS oscillators/resonators, micromirrors for picoprojectors, microdisplays, MEMS autofocus, IR sensors and micro bolometers, biochemical detectors & gas sensors, MEMS touchscreen, MEMS joystick, radiation detectors, MEMS fuel cells, energy harvesting, UV sensors, ultrasonic sensors and more!

Mobile phones and tablets are becoming more sophisticated, and MEMS content is everincreasing.

Indeed, MEMS sensors and actuators bring a strong value proposition at different levels:

  • Navigation & environmental sensing
  • Improved sound quality
  • Better communication performance
  • Improved visual experience + new tactile interface
  • Increased battery life
  • Infrared sensing

The past 12 months have seen big changes. While in the past, cell phone MEMS were limited to three categories (inertial, microphones and filters), we've seen strong adoption of new device types targeting environmental sensing. Also, pressure sensors are being heavily adopted in flagship phones and tablets, and humidity sensors are being adopted in the Samsung Galaxy S4. All of these new MEMS killer applications are detailed in this report.

Changes have even occurred in existing highvolume MEMS areas:

  • Significant architectural changes have been observed in inertial sensors, with current strong adoption of IMU combo sensors. Likewise, a new opportunity has appeared with a camera module's dedicated OIS gyroscope.
  • A trend has appeared involving integration of a third MEMS microphone to provide HD voice recording (i.e. in the iPhone 5), in addition to the dual microphone architecture described in the last report. This trend is a market booster.
  • Strong adoption of LTE in high-end platforms will boost the duplexer market for the next three years.

Global MEMS market for cell phones & tablets (in $M)

(Yole Développement, June 2013)

The long-term outlook for MEMS companies is brighter than ever, as existing products and products just ramping up will drive solid growth over the next few years. Additionally, a new wave of MEMS products will enable further growth.

This report describes why some of these emerging MEMS (speakers, oscillators, chemical sensors, switches, auto-focus, etc.) will ramp up in volume almost overnight, just as pressure and humidity sensors did in the past few months.

A nice 19% yearly growth is predicted for a market that reached $2.2B in 2012, and volume growth will be even more impressive, with 17.5B units expected by 2018, up from 4.5B in 2012.

Simplified view of tomorrow's (2018's) smartphone board

(Yole Développement, June 2013)


As sensor popularity enables new applications, software is key for obtaining the best performance and functionalities. Sensor hubs appeared at the end of 2012, in Windows Phone architectures and also in some Android platforms such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy S4, which integrate Atmel hub. This greatly impacts the MEMS value chain, since successful products must offer the right level of software and be qualified with sensor hubs in a timely manner.

Sometime in 2013, evolution is still expected in value partitioning, in particular with sensor fusion integration in the application processor. Also, as the value chain continues moving and novel architectures appear, new killer functionalities will hit the market. In particular, an ecosystem for context awareness or indoor navigation is put in place, with technology demonstrations (such as Movea's recent demo at CES) and release of the first commercial chipsets enabling new sensor and data fusion concepts (Qualcomm iZat, Gimbal, CSR SiRFusion Platform, etc.). The most recent end-user trends shaping demand for nextgeneration MEMS devices are carefully analyzed in this report. In fact, one of the strongest impacts on sensor fusion architecture is the growth of connected devices and the use of the cell phone as a hub.


A large, growing market often comes with a strong price decrease. This is true for MEMS in mobile devices, as was observed in 2012. Continuous competition between STMicroelectronics and InvenSense, and the arrival of a third player in gyroscope and IMU, had a significant impact on pricing -- which decreased 25% in just one year! In the magnetometer area, the price decrease was even more significant, at 35%. Memsic's aggressive pricing strategy forced market leader AKM to realign. Details are provided in this report.

Top MEMS suppliers in the mobile phone and tablet market (in $M)
- 2012 revenue ($M) - Breakdown by product type -

(Yole Développement, June 2013)

While the big guys still dominate this field and possess most of the business (STMicroelectronics for gyros and accelerometers, AKM for magnetometers, Knowles Acoustics for microphones and Avago for BAW), things are changing. For example, in some cases we've seen an erosion of market share, for reasons described in this report. In fact, our analysis shows that in one year, Knowles lost 19% market share, AKM 8% and Avago 2% in their respective markets.

Opportunities for challengers are emerging every day, driven by several factors:

  • Technology shift linked to the demand for higher performance in order to enable newend functionalities and integration levels (this may be happening for magnetometers)
  • New business models, such as integrating MEMS dies, which are sold off-the-shelf (typically by Infineon)
  • Adoption of disruptive concepts for new sensors and actuators

Out of the 20+ players currently doing business in mobile MEMS applications, only three have been able to successfully diversify by enlarging their MEMS product portfolio. It's a difficult achievement because Yole Développement's MEMS law remains valid: there is still no standardization for MEMS products and processes. However, all industry players are actively looking to provide new functions and launch new components.


  • To provide a global overview of market data for MEMS components used in cell phones and tablets, including key market metrics & dynamics
  • To provide an analysis of major technology trends for each device type
  • To provide a deep analysis of the challenges and opportunities for MEMS sensors and actuators in handsets and tablets
  • To provide a clear understanding of the MEMS value chain, infrastructure and players for the cellular handset and tablet business
  • To analyze sensor fusion developments and emerging major end-applications, including indoor navigation and context awareness


  • Device and company updates
  • Latest market and technology trends in this fast-moving area!
  • Analysis of new sensor types; specific sections on humidity sensors and emerging sensors
  • Analysis of sensor fusion developments; impact of wearable electronics and other connected objects
  • Insights on other sensor types: image sensors, ALS, proximity, color, etc.


  • Status of MEMS devices (in production/in development) for cell phone applications
  • 2010-2018 market forecasts and 2012 market shares
  • Analysis of sensor fusion developments, including connected devices' impact (i.e. wearable electronics)


AAC Acoustics, Analog Devices, Aichi MI, AKM, Alps Electric, Amazon, AMS, Apple, Aptina Imaging, Asus, Atmel, Audiopixels, Avago, BlackBerry, BodyMedia, Bosch Sensortec, Broadcom, Canon, Capella, Cavendish Kinetics, CSR, DelfMEMS, Discera, Epcos, Excelitas, Fairchild, Freescale, Fujitsu, Gettop, Goertek, Google, Hillcrest Labs, HTC, Huawei, IDT, Intel, Intersil, InvenSense, Jabra, Jawbone, Kionix, Knowles Acoustics, Lemoptix, LG, Marvell, Maxim, mCube, Mediatek, MEMS Vision, MEMSensing Microsystems, Memsic, Micello, Microvision, MiraMEMS, Mobiplex, Mosoro, Motorola, Movea, Murata, Navisens, Netatmo, NEWCO, Nextinput, Nokia, Nvidia, NXP, Omnivision, Omron, On Semiconductor, Panasonic, Peregrine, PoLight, Pyreos, Qualcomm, RFMD, Rohm, Samsung, Sand 9, Senodia, Sensirion, Sharp, Silicon Labs, SiTime, Sony, Spreadtrum, STMicroelectronics, Synkera, Tactus Technology, TCL, Tessera, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, TreLab, TriQuint, Trusted Positioning, u-blox, Variable Technologies, Visioglobe, Wavelens, Wispry, Withings, Wolfson, Yamaha, ZTE...


Laurent Robin is activity leader in MEMS & Sensors at Yole Développement with a focus on inertial sensors & RF MEMS related technologies. He holds a Physics Engineering degree from the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Toulouse, plus a Master Degree in Technology & Innovation Management from EM Lyon Business School, France.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction, definitions & methodology
  • Executive summary
  • Trends in the mobile phone and tablet market, and drivers for the integration of MEMS in mobile devices
  • Trends in sensor/data fusion
  • Competitive trends and supply chain analysis
    • Competitive landscape: MEMS player rankings
    • Value chain evolution
  • MEMS in mobile phones/tablets: 2012-2018 market overview
    • MEMS diffusion model and historical data on MEMS attach rate
    • 2012-2018 market synthesis
  • Inertial sensors, magnetometers
    • Overview
    • MEMS accelerometers
    • MEMS gyroscopes
    • Magnetometers
    • 6-AXIS E-compass
    • 6-AXIS IMU combos
    • 9-AXIS combo solutions
  • MEMS microphones and speakers
    • Silicon microphones
    • Microspeakers
  • Pressure and humidity sensors
    • Pressure sensors
    • Humidity/temperature sensors
  • BAW, RF-MEMS and silicon timing
    • BAW filters and duplexers
    • MEMS switches and variable capacitors
    • Silicon MEMS oscillators/resonators
  • Optical MEMS: mirrors, display, AF, IR
    • Micromirrors for picoprojectors
    • Microdisplays
    • MEMS auto-focus
    • IR Sensors and microbolometers
  • Emerging MEMS for mobile devices
    • Bio-chemical detectors & gas sensors
    • MEMS touchscreen
    • MEMS joystick
    • Radiation detectors
    • MEMS fuel cells
    • Energy harvesting
    • Others: UV, Ultrasonic...
  • Other sensors in mobile phones (non-MEMS technologies)
    • CMOS image sensors
    • ALS, proximity, color sensors
  • Conclusion and perspectives
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