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Apple, Samsung Dominate MEMS Market

Mon, 08/13/2012 - 6:52am
Andrew Berg

Apple and Samsung Electronics remained the two largest buyers of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices for consumer and mobile applications in 2011, according to a new report from IHS iSuppli. 

MEMS include things such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, MEMS microphones and bulk acoustic wave filters used in tablets and smartphones. 

According to the iSuppli, Apple was the top buyer of MEMS, purchasing the equivalent to $499.8 million, or roughly 23 percent, of the $2.1 billion consumer and mobile MEMS market. 

Samsung, in second place, was worth $291.3 million to the industry, or 14 percent. 

Apple’s total last year was up 139 percent from $209.2 million in 2010, while Samsung’s MEMS expenditure was up 45 percent from $201.2 million for the same period.

Jérémie Bouchaud, director and senior principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at HIS, said Apple and Samsung dominate the MEMS market because of their popular smartphone and tablet offerings. 

“In the smartphone market, for instance, Apple’s iPhone is a category killer, while Samsung’s various smartphone models collectively enjoy massive share," Bouchaud wrote in a statement. "Apple’s lead in the tablet space is formidable given the unmatched dominance of the iPad. While Samsung’s unit share of the tablet market still hovers around 10 percent, its success in the smartphone market coupled with its technological and marketing prowess position Samsung as one of the strongest potential challengers to Apple’s long-term dominance in tablets.”

The size of both Apple and Samsung was such that none of the eight companies making up the top 10 last year individually contributed more than $100 million to the overall consumer and mobile MEMS space. The rest of the top 10 MEMS buyers included LG Electronics, Sony, Nintendo, Nokia, HTC, Motorola, Canon and the now-dissolved Sony Ericsson.

IHS said that the combined weight of Apple and Samsung in the consumer and mobile MEMS market translates into palpable advantages for both companies, as the MEMS suppliers must make concessions in order to accommodate the giants’ heft. 

For instance, suppliers know that they can only hope to win significant share by catering to at least one of the two behemoths. Otherwise, one contends with crumbs and is saddled with middling sales volumes unsuitable for large-scale market competition.

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