Print heads still drive MEMS manufacturing but cell phone accelerometers are catching up
By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk
It's always good to have pre-conceptions challenged, and this one is big - that HP is the leading manufacturer of Microelectromechanical (MEMS) sensors among semiconductor Integrated Device Manufacturers (IDM) and fabless firms, according to the latest figures from market researchers iSuppli.
“While sales of Hewlett-Packard’s inkjet printers fell 12 percent in 2009, the top player was able to cushion the blow through its large installed base, whose use of disposable printheads or replacement ink cartridges continues to provide significant revenues,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst at iSuppli. “More than half of Hewlett-Packard’s MEMS revenue is fabless, and the company outsources the fabrication of a large portion of its printheads to STMicroelectronics. The seismic-grade accelerometers introduced by the company at the end of 2009 have not yet started contributing to its MEMS revenue, iSuppli research shows.”
In second place and mirroring its runner-up position in 2008 was Texas Instruments.
“Despite losing several hundred million dollars in MEMS since 2006, Texas Instruments benefited in 2009 from the revenue that MEMS in pico-projectors started to bring in,” Bouchaud said. “Furthermore, the MEMS in DLP chipsets produced by Texas Instruments for use in rear-projection TVs did better than expected, thanks to Mitsubishi Corp.’s continuing investment in laser rear-projection technology utilizing DLP.”
Likewise unchanged in their 2009 positions from the year before were the companies in third and fourth place: Bosch and Canon. Bosch, at No. 3, saw its overall MEMS revenue dip by 3 percent and its automotive MEMS revenue decline by 17 percent. However, consumer electronics revenue from the company’s Bosch Sensortec branch rose almost fourfold last year. Holding down the No. 4 spot was Canon, which gained MEMS share in the inkjet printhead segment, although its shipments remained flat.
Other companies in the IDM and fabless category that performed well included Epson, which achieved a 12 percent increase in revenue thanks to its booming quartz MEMS gyroscope business; and STMicroelectronics, which holds more than 40 percent of the accelerometer market for cell phones.
IDMs—i.e., semiconductor suppliers that conduct their manufacturing in-house—accounted for a greater share of MEMS revenue—roughly 77 percent, compared 23 percent for fabless manufacturers. However, the market share of fabless firms—i.e., semiconductor companies that outsource their manufacturing—is set to increase during the next five years because of the growing trend in the industry to use external foundries for semiconductor production.
Taken together, MEMS revenue for the Top 10 IDMs and fabless manufacturers amounted to $5.7 billion in 2009, down 8.8 percent from the year before. The decline was less than expected, mainly because of the impressive recovery of sensor production, especially in the automotive sector, during the last four months of 2009.
For more information, see iSuppli’s new report MEMS: Where's the Money and Who's Making it?