Driven by new demand from consumer electronics and wireless applications, the global market for Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) will expand to $8.8 B in 2012, up from $6.1 B in 2006, iSuppli Corp. predicts. “The markets for mainstay MEMS actuator products—like inkjet heads and Digital Light Processor (DLP) chips from Texas Instruments Inc.—finally have passed the baton to MEMS sensors to drive the next growth wave in the market,” said Jeremie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst, MEMS, for iSuppli. “The new wave is partly founded in the rapid rise of consumer electronics applications such as motion sensors for gaming, laptops and digital still cameras. Mobile handsets will also be a strong area, with MEMS sensor revenue in this area to rise at a 22.9 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) to reach $925 M in 2012.”

Four main segments collectively will account for slightly more than 60 percent of total MEMS market revenue in 2012: consumer electronics, mobile handsets, automotive and industrial process control. Aside from the consumer and wireless applications, market pull is being exerted by the automotive sector, an established area set to receive new impetus as a result of mandates for safety and new emissions standards. Demand also will be driven by a diverse range of applications in industrial processing and control.

The one bright spot for actuators is in Radio Frequency (RF) MEMS switches used in mobile handsets and test equipment. This market will grow at an annual rate of more than 100 percent from 2006 to 2012, and will account for $261 M in actuator revenue in 2012, up from just $6 M in 2007.

“The consumer electronics and mobile communications fields are much more dynamic than the previous mainstay markets for MEMS,” Bouchaud said. “Existing companies have a great opportunity to ride this wave and new players have a chance to address a relatively open market. However, deep R&D pockets are essential to compete in this area, and the companies that will succeed will be those that bet on and invest in building dedicated mass-production facilities.” Pioneering companies with brand new MEMS products tend to enjoy a lengthy monopoly in the market, such as Texas Instruments with its DLP chip or Knowles with MEMS microphones.

Meanwhile, in fast-moving markets like consumer electronics and automotive sensors—the latter driven by mandates—economies of scale will be the norm, with sensor companies attempting to address both sectors. iSuppli also expects the pace of mergers and acquisitions to accelerate in 2008 and 2009, concentrating MEMS market share among fewer players. Please visit page 212 of this month’s issue of Microwave Journal for more market analysis from iSuppli Corp.