Focus on gyroscopes for mobile phone apps: Yole

Laurent Robin, MEMS market analyst, Yole Développement, presented on gyroscopes for mobile phone apps during a MEMS market briefing in Tokyo, at MEMS/Micromachine 2010.

He presented an overview of the MEMS inertial sensor market, as well as a status of the gyroscope market in consumer applications. He focused on gyroscope for mobile phone applications and a combination of motion sensors for mobile phones.

Overview of MEMS inertial sensor market
Robin presented an overview of the MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes market.

MEMS accelerometers
CE: $596.84 million in 2010 going up to $799.80 million in 2013. The CAGR 2008-13 is 17 percent.
Automotive: $462.85 million in 2010 going up to $574.62 million in 2013. The CAGR 2008-13 is 4.7 percent.
Industrial & Medical: $96.28 million in 2010 going up to $126.04 million in 2013. The CAGR is 4.4 percent.
Aerospace & Defense: $92.61 million in 2010 going up to $128.12 million in 2013. The CAGR is 10 percent.

MEMS gyroscopes
CE: $296.09 million in 2010 going up to $701.60 million in 2013. The CAGR 2008-13 is 27.3 percent.
Automotive: $473.43 million in 2010 going up to $521.56 million in 2013. The CAGR 2008-13 is 2.5 percent.
Industrial & Medical: $12.43 million in 2010 going up to $16.90 million in 2013. The CAGR is 10.6 percent.
Aerospace & Defense: $128.69 million in 2010 going up to $177.03 million in 2013. The CAGR is 9.7 percent.

Status of gyroscope market in consumer apps
The 3-axis gyroscopes are now available. As expected, Invensense and ST Microelectronics have released the first 3-axis gyroscopes in Q4 2009.

Those 3-axis gyroscopes are starting to be integrated in some handset platforms in the summer of 2010. The price is now low enough for high-end smartphones: around $2.50 probably. However, it will have to decrease quickly for further adoption.

The 2009 MEMS gyroscope market share for CE applications is estimated at $258 million. As for the market shares, five competitors — Invensense, Epson Toyocom, Panasonic, Murata and — ST are playing in the consumer electronics gyroscope market today. Invensense and ST are strongly competing to enter this promising mobile phone market. The Japanese players have not extended their camcorder and camera business to mobile phones yet.

Focus on gyroscope for mobile phone apps
According to Robin, the motion sensor market is likely to grow from $306 million in 2009 to $1,191 million in 2015. This is the most dynamic area in the MEMS and sensor market.

While accelerometers and compasses tend to become a commodity product, growth now comes from MEMS gyroscopes. The MEMS gyroscopes will start to be massively implemented in smartphones in 2010 with the iPhone4 announced in June.

Source: Yole Développement, France.
MEMS gyroscopes in mobile phones. Source: Yole Développement, France.

Long term growth will come from low-drift gyroscopes and from modules of motion sensors. The competition will intensify as new companies are expected to challenge the current players with disruptive approaches. Yole has identified over 50 companies in this area!

The iPhone4 saw the first gyroscopes in mobile phones in June 2010! Apple’s Steve Jobs announced that the iPhone4 will integrate a 3-axis gyroscope. Many other smartphones are expected to feature gyroscopes by the end of 2010.

Apple is expected to set a new trend, as it did for accelerometers three years earlier. ST Microelectronics has emerged as the big winner of this first battle. It has won this new key contract with Apple. InvenSense is the only viable alternative to ST Microelectronics, they are also expected to make nice profits with this handset market.

Price pressure is already strong, even with no or low quantities! If announced around $3 in large quantities, the actual pricing will be around $2.50 for 3-axis gyros. Also, gyro manufacturers want to be adopted by the big handset OEMs as soon as possible.

Pricing is a challenge. The $2.50 or $2 is still a lot in a mobile phone BOM. Massive integration of gyroscopes will need further price reduction.

Combo of motion sensors for mobile phones
As per Yole, three types of motion sensor clusters are expected. if you analyze the 3-axis accelerometer (3A), 3-axis gyroscope (3G) and 3-axis digital compass (3M) segments. These are:

In the 3A + 3M cluster, the market demand is validated. In 2009: 10 percent of compass are embedded in 3A+3G modules. The challenge — compass location is critical (interferences). If it works well, the market for 3A+3M combo will surge very fast.

In the IMU: 3A + 3G cluster, when gyros will become popular, there will be an interest to integrate them with accelerometers. Also, sensor fusion with accelerometer data will provide additional features (navigation).

In the 3A + 3G + 3M cluster, the long term view is that demand will start only when 3-axis gyroscopes become a commodity.

The question is: low cost MEMS IMUs (inertial measurement unit) are now possible, but are they really needed? Yole sees two approaches that are likely to appear in parallel. One, 3-axis gyroscopes on the board for gaming, dead reckoning, and later combined with 3-axis accelerometer: MEMS IMUs. Two, 2-axis gyroscopes (low dynamic range) on the camera module for stabilization. There will be minor cases when 3-axis gyro solution is not required.

Yole believes that MEMS IMUs (and other motion sensor combos) will be a very hot topic in just a few months.

Yole also presented an example the smart sensor — the ST-iNEMO.  A smart sensor is a combination of sensors, data processing and information transmission.

Three kinds of players will be involved for motion sensor clusters: MCU providers and motion sensing component suppliers; data fusion and software, and system integrator. Signal processing and software is also becoming key, though, things won’t change a lot at the component level.

The accelerometer industry is also well established. Very few new players should appear in the multi-axis gyroscope market or 3-axis magnetometer market — and only three players are supplying 2 and 3 axis gyros today: Invensense, Panasonic and ST.

Large, integrated players such as ST, Freescale, Panasonic and Bosch are trying to increase their position in the supply chain. Players in signal processing are now trying to get a part of the majority of the IMU added value.

New business models are appearing, leading to possible changes in the supply chain. Companies like Movea are buying standards sensors and add a high value though integration, software and processing. They target system integrators buy selling a solution taking into account the end applications, so that the integrators don’t have to manage the complex motion sensor output data.

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