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Light sensors projected to reap double-digit growth

Posted: 01 Aug 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:light sensor? proximity sensor? smartphone?

Samsung, meanwhile, has gone on to use light and proximity sensors in even larger quantities than Apple. Last year Samsung included an RGB, proximity and infrared (IR) combo sensor, for both its Galaxy SIII smartphone and flagship Galaxy Note 2 device that the company termed as a "phablet." This year, Samsung deployed a discrete RGB sensor in its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4, switching from a combo package due to lack of availability of a combo sensor with gesture capability. Samsung's move towards using RGB sensors in its high-end handsets currently sets the tone for the RGB sensor market given Samsung's high unit sales. Such a move by the South Korean maker is expected to open the door for other brands to also include RGB sensors in their handsets and tablets, IHS noted.

The new gesture functionality, such as that found in the Galaxy S4, will see especially vigorous growth in the years to come, with revenue enjoying an astonishing 44 per cent CAGR from 2013-2017. Maxim Integrated Solutions of California provides the discrete gesture solution for the Galaxy S4, but Japan's Sharp will be producing a combo sensor product with gesture capabilities by September this year.

Samsung and Apple are the top buyers of light sensors, accounting for more than 50 per cent of light sensor revenue last year. Samsung pulled away from Apple after impressive 90 per cent growth in sensor purchases between 2011 and 2012, compared to Apple's 54 per cent growth rate of spend during the period.

This is due to Samsung's shift towards RGB sensors in its Note 2 and SIII devices, which command higher average selling prices. In third place after Samsung and Apple is a collective group of original equipment manufacturers from China. Included here are global players with significant name recognition such as Huawei Technologies, ZTE and Lenovo, as well as a multitude of lesser-known companies such as Coolpad and Xiaomi.

Meanwhile, the top sensor suppliers are Austrian-based Ams via its Taos unit in Texas, which supplies to Apple; and Capella Microsystems from Taiwan, the top light sensor supplier to Samsung. Together the two manufacturers furnish more than half of the light sensor market. Other important sensor makers are Avago Technologies from California and Sharp from Japan.

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