Motion sensor market for smartphones and tablets set to double by 2015, says IHS


Sparked by Apple's adoption of accelerometer technology in its iPhone and iPad lines, the market for motion sensor devices in smartphones and tablets is set to nearly double during the next five years, according to IHS iSuppli.

Global revenues from motion sensor technology in smartphones and tablets will expand to US$2.1 billion in 2015, up from US$1.1 billion in 2011, said IHS. The motion sensor category consists of a range of products including MEMS accelerometers, MEMS gyroscopes, electronic compasses – also known as 3-axis magnetometers – and MEMS pressure sensors.

Apple kicked off the market for motion sensors in smartphones in 2007 with the introduction of the accelerometer-equipped iPhone, IHS indicated. The company further boosted the smartphone motion sensor market in 2010 with the addition of a compass and a 3-axis gyroscope to the iPhone 4 line. That same year also marked Apple's introduction of the iPad, which included the same motion sensor devices.

Following Apple's lead, other companies have made motion sensors standard features in their smartphones and tablets – the two fastest-growing mass-market electronics products on the market today, IHS observed.

Global smartphone shipments are set to soar to 1.03 billion units in 2015, up from 294 million in 2010. Meanwhile, media tablet shipments are expected to rise to 275.3 million units in 2015, up from 17.4 million in 2010. Given this rapid growth, a total of four billion motion sensors will ship in smartphones and media tablets in 2015, up nearly fivefold from 864 million in 2010, IHS forecast.

Accelerometers and compasses already are nearly ubiquitous in smartphones, with 95% and 96% penetration, respectively, in 2011, IHS said. Penetration also is increasing in feature phones.

In 2011, 29% of smartphones will include a gyroscope, up from 13% in 2011, IHS estimated.

Pressure sensors are emerging in the second half of 2011 and will experience growing demand in high-end smartphones starting in 2013 for use in indoor navigation applications, according to IHS.

In the media tablet space, the combination of accelerometers, gyroscopes and compasses is standard in 2011, said IHS. Pressure sensors already have appeared in some tablets, notably the Motorola Xoom.


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