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MEMS MICROPHONES MARKET TO REACH ONE BILLION IN FIVE YEARS

Silicon microphones are among a broad range of devices known as micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), an emerging field in which various sensors and mechanical devices are constructed on a single wafer using processes developed for making Integrated Circuits (ICs). The chief advantage of micromachining silicon microphones is cost. Several sensors can be processed on a chip simultaneously and can be integrated with passive and active electronic devices.

According to a new market research study from Innovative Research and Products (iRAP) titled “MEMS Microphones – A Global Technology, Industry and Market Analysis (ETP-105),” silicon micro-machined microphones (also known as silicon microphones or MEMS microphones) have begun to emerge as a competitor technology to the electret condenser microphone (ECM). The global market is expected to grow from $140 million in 2006 to 922 million by 2011 with an annual average growth rate of 46% during this period.

MEMS microphones are more compact than traditional microphone systems because they capture sound and convert it to a digital signal on the same chip. MEMS microphone solutions developed on the CMOS (complimentary metal oxide semiconductors) MEMS platform frees consumer electronic device designers and manufacturers from many of the problems associated with ECMs. CMOS MEMS microphones also integrate an analogue-to-digital converter on the chip, creating a microphone with a robust digital output. Since the majority of portable applications will ultimately convert the analogue output of the microphone to a digital signal for processing, the system architecture can be made completely digital, removing noise-prone analogue signals from the circuit board and simplifying the overall design.

Report Highlights

The new iRAP study has focused on MEMS microphones that can be used in mobile phones, digicams, camcorders, laptops, automotive hands-free calling and hearing aids. It provides market data about the size and growth of the MEMS microphones application segments, new developments including a detailed patent analysis, company profiles and industry trends. The report also covered the underlying economic issues driving the MEMS microphones business, as well as assessments of new advanced MEMS microphones that are being developed.

Manufacturers of MEMS microphones expect competition to persist and intensify in the future from a number of different sources. Microphones are facing competition in a new, rapidly evolving and highly competitive sector of the audio communication market. Increased competition could result in reduced prices and gross margins for microphone products and could require increased spending by research and development, sales and marketing and customer support.

Micro-machined microphone chips can match and extend the performance of existing devices, for instance, by using sensor arrays. Silicon microphones also offer advantages to the OEM in the form of improved manufacturing methods (reliability, yield, assembly cost) combined with robustness. They also offer additional functionality, such as the ability to incorporate multiple microphones into portable electronic devices for noise suppression and beam forming.

The potential for smaller footprint components and resistance to electromagnetic interference also supports new cell phone designs. Moreover, MEMS microphones meet price points set by electret microphones by leveraging established high-volume silicon manufacturing processes. This combination of size, performance and functionality, and low cost are highly desirable for OEMs and consumers alike.

Many of these new “miniature” silicon microphones for consumer and computer communication devices are approximately one-half the size and operate on just one-third the power of conventional microphones.

The range of possible applications of these microphones derives from their important advantages as compared to conventional ECM technologies. Based on silicon MEMS technology, the new microphone achieves the same acoustic and electrical properties as conventional microphones, but is more rugged and exhibits higher heat resistance. These properties offer designers of a wide range of products greater flexibility and new opportunities to integrate microphones.

Report Conclusions

Major findings of this report are:
  • The MEMS microphones market is an attractive, and still growing, multimillion-dollar market characterized by very high production volumes of MEMS microphones that are extremely reliable and low in cost.
  • Mobile phones, digcams and camcorders will have the largest share in 2006 followed by laptops.
  • From 2006 to 2011, the largest growth rate will be for laptops – as much as 72% AAGR from 2006 to 2011.
  • Regionally, North America had about 21.4% of the market in 2006, followed by Europe at 16.4 %, Japan at 14.2%, and the rest of world at 47.8 %.
  • There are less than a dozen players who are sharing the global market in 2006. BY 2011, the number of companies producing MEMS microphones will double.
SUMMARY OF NORTH AMERICAN AND GLOBAL MARKETS FOR MEMS MICROPHONES, 2006 AND 2011

  2006($ Millions) 2011($ Millions) AAGR (%)2006-11
North America 30 190 44.6
Global 140 922 45.7


ILLUSTRATION OF NORTH AMERICAN AND GLOBAL MARKET FOR MEMS MICROPHONES FOR 2006 AND 2011

NOTH AMERICAN, GLOBAL MARKET FOR MEMS MICROPHONES

Source: iRAP, Inc
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