Combo sensors are headed for another major growth spurt this year in the global microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensor market as revenue climbs an expansive 37 percent after two years of already phenomenal increases, according to new analysis from IHS Technology, El Segundo CA.
Global revenue for combo sensors in consumer and mobile applications will reach a projected $608.2 million this year, up from $443.0 million in 2013. This year’s projected growth of nearly 40 percent continues the market’s rapid ascent, including an outsized 417 percent rise in revenue for 2012, and a near-doubling of the market after that when industry takings surged another 94 percent in 2013. By 2017, combo sensor revenue will cross the billion-dollar threshold and bring in $1.03 billion, as shown in the attached figure, equivalent to a four-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2013 of 23 percent.
Combo sensors are MEMS packages that mix together accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers and pressure sensors, as opposed to these devices being implemented as discrete, separate items for their intended applications. In 2011 combo sensors accounted for only 3 percent of total revenue for MEMS motion sensors, but their share of the market has been rising steadily since then—up to 13 percent in 2012, to 25 percent last year, to an anticipated 33 percent by year-end in 2014, and to past the 50 percent mark by 2016 according to projections.
“The main reason for the success of combo sensors is their convenience,” said Jeremie Bouchaud, director and senior principal analyst for MEMS & sensors at IHS. “They are expedient for original equipment manufacturers (OEM) who can buy just one device instead of two or three separate MEMS sensors. They also lend themselves to easy implementation as all combo sensors can be sold as plug-and-play solutions with their embedded sensor fusion algorithms, making for easier, more elegant deployment.”
Samsung tops all buyers
The largest buyer by far of combo sensors last year was Samsung, which spent $183 million or 41 percent of the total combo sensor market in 2013. Its purchases included 6-axis IMUs from STMicroelectronics for the Galaxy S4 smartphone; from InvenSense for the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone; and from Bosch for some Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablets.