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EETE SEP 2014

MEMS leaders under pressure, says Yole By Peter Clarke The MEMS industry is changing as established leaders with manufacturing and an emphasis on delivering components are put under pressure by fabless MEMS vendors as customers become more interested in functionality – a mix of hardware and of software – than components. That is the opinion of analysts at Yole Developpement, which has just prepared a status report on the MEMS industry. In 2013 the MEMS market was worth $12 billion and grew by about 10 percent but this hide the fact that unit shipments are growing at a much faster rate but accompanied by a 7 percent decrease in the average selling price (ASP). This results from the “success” of MEMS penetration into consumer electronics and mobile phones and tablet computers in particular – where competition is becoming brutal. MEMS market forecast ($ billions) by application. Source: Yole Developpement. Although the 10.4 percent annual growth looks good established players are struggling to continue that growth. “If we look at the top MEMS players, we see that STMicroelectronics, while still producing at high volume, is struggling to stop the decrease of the price of its own products – even though it’s shown impressive growth over the last several years, and reached US$1B sales in 2012 – the first MEMS company to do so,” said Eric Mounier, senior analyst at Yole, in a statement. Meanwhile, Texas Instruments’ DLP sales are flat, since pico projection applications are long to take off, at least for consumer applications, and the professional/commercial projection market is growing at slow speed. Examples of TSVs used in MEMS. Source: Yole. Also, Hewlett-Packard, the major inkjet heads player, has seen sales decline, as have most other inkjet heads companies. Newcomers are adopting a fabless model as exemplified by such companies as InvenSense and mCube. It is notable that novel manufacturing techniques are starting to have an impact on the MEMS market with mCube succeeding to remove the need for bond wires through the use of TSVs. However, despite the warning signs for the established players Bosch has used manufacturing and diversification to rise to the top of the industry. Bosch’s MEMS automotive business has paid for the building of a major dedicated MEMS wafer fab and it is now compensating for its low margins in its consumer activity. One could argue, along similar lines to those which run in digital ICs, that staying in the consumer market has become bad business. Certainly the gains and volumes achieved in consumer deployments of MEMS are now starting to drive sectors with better margins such as medical, automotive, industrial and defense. However, it is also the case that sensor fusion and software to create complete remote functionalities are also becoming customer requirements and this has driven a spate of recent acquisitions. MEMS sales of major companies 2009 to 2013. Source: Yole. Top 30 MEMS players in 2013 with sales marked for mobile applications. Source: Yole. 8 Electronic Engineering Times Europe September 2014 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE SEP 2014
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