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More mobile phones to pack accelerometers in 2010

Posted: 14 Jul 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:accelerometer? MEMS in mobile phones? shipment MEMS?

Accelerometers are expected to appear in one-third of mobile phones shipped next year, according to iSuppli Corp. The MEMS-based devices owe this to the role they play in the user interfaces of popular phones like Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Palm Inc.'s Pre.

"By next year, one out of three mobile phones shipped worldwide will include an accelerometer, up from one out of five in 2009, and one out of 11 in 2008," observed J�r�mie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst of MEMS for iSuppli.

"While few consumers know what accelerometers are, they do know that when they turn their iPhones to the side, their screens automatically adjust from portrait to landscape view, or that when they shake their handsets they can roll a pair of virtual dice in a game of chance," said Bouchaud. "With their capability to detect and measure motion, accelerometers are the critical enablers of these features, which are an essential element of what makes these smart phones so popular. These capabilities now are spreading beyond smart phones to other types of handsets."

Figure 1 presents iSuppli's forecast of global accelerometer penetration in all types of mobile phones.

Beyond game play and screen orientation, the most popular uses for 3-axis MEMS accelerometer motion sensors in phones include power management and shake modes for control of tracks in music phones, context awareness and pedometers.

Figure 1: iSuppli's forecast of global accelerometer penetration in all types of mobile phones. (Click to view full image)

iSuppli's teardown analysis of the iPhone 3G S revealed the use of a 3-axis MEMS accelerometer from STMicroelectronics. Beyond the features mentioned, the STMicroelectronics part works with the new iPhone's digital compass to orient maps to whatever direction a user is facing.

In the teardown of the Palm Pre, iSuppli identified a Kionix Inc. MEMS accelerometer and inclinometer.

Looking specifically at the top mobile-phone OEMs, 38 percent of new Nokia handsets platforms have integrated motion-sensing accelerometers since January. Sony Ericsson had the highest penetration of accelerometers, with 18 out of 19 new phones models introduced this year. Samsung and LG also are offering new phones with 3-axis accelerometers.

iSuppli annually tracks the features of more than 1,000 mobile phones from 32 manufacturersaccounting for 99 percent of total cellphone shipments. Since January 1, of the several hundred phones already introduced, 18.3 percent of the models integrated an accelerometer. iSuppli expects the penetration of accelerometers in new models to rise in 2H 09.

Figure 2: iSuppli's forecast of global MEMS revenue derived from mobile handsets. (Click to view full image)

Partly because of the rapid rise in accelerometer adoption and the use of other MEMS, the market for microelectromechanical sensors for mobile phones is expected to more than triple from 2008 to 2013. Global revenue from sales of MEMS for mobile phones will rise to $1.6 billion in 2013, up from $460.9 million in 2008.

Beyond accelerometers, other MEMS devices already used in mobile phones include microphones, BAW duplexers and filters, MEMS autofocus actuators, pressure sensors, and even MEMS pico-projectors. MEMS gyroscopes will join the fray in early 2010.

Figure 2 presents iSuppli's forecast of global MEMS revenue derived from mobile handsets.





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