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Apple suppliers top MEMS microphone rankings

Posted: 06 May 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS microphones? Apple suppliers? smartphones? MEMS market?

Apple Inc. has once again proven its power in making winners in the electronics supply chain. According to an IHS iSuppli MEMS & Sensors Special Report, the top suppliers of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) microphones for 2012 were providers for the iPhones and iPad devices.

IHS noted that suppliers that had significant sales to Apple occupied the top 4 MEMS microphone ranks. These companies were No. 1 Knowles Electronics from Illinois, AAC of China in second place, Massachusetts-based Analog Devices in the third spot, and Goertek of China in fourth. Together the top 4 players last year commanded combined revenue of $513 million, equivalent to 88 per cent of total MEMS microphone industry revenue of $583 million.

MEMS microphone ranking

Top global MEMS microphone suppliers ranked by revenue (millions of US Dollars)
Source: IHS Inc., May 2013

"Microphones continue to be one of the best success stories in MEMS, with mobile device manufacturers adding increasing numbers of these devices to their phones to support advanced features, such as voice command and noise suppression," said Jrmie Bouchaud, director and senior principal analyst for MEMS & sensors at IHS. "Multiple microphones now are being adopted in smartphones to cancel ambient soundscrucial for handsets when carrying out voice command systems, such as Apple's Siri. Apple has led the way in the adoption of MEMS microphone technology, and has steadily added the number of devices used in each of its mobile products, compelling competitors to follow suit."

While midrange to high-end smartphones mostly used two microphones in 2010 and 2011, three microphones are fast becoming standard ever since Apple introduced a third device on the back of the iPhone 5 for high-definition video recording, Bouchaud noted.

Noise suppression and voice commands also are seeing increased adoption in tablets and Ultrabooks, resulting in the use of multiple microphones as ultrasonic transducers for hand-gesture commands.

Aside from handsets, MEMS microphones are used in other important applications such as headsets, gaming, cameras, televisions and hearing aids.

The top suppliers, in a nutshell
Knowles continued to dominate the MEMS microphone sphere, outflanking all other suppliers with revenue last year of $291 millionpractically half of the industry total. But while it has the most comprehensive product portfolio and ships to virtually every original equipment manufacturer, Knowles has seen its MEMS microphone market share tumble by 16 percentage points from 2011 to 2012 because of erosion in its business with Apple. Knowles is still the first supplier for the iPad mini, but has slipped to second place behind AAC in providing MEMS microphones for the iPhone.

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