Handset Sensor Market to Grow Substantially

July 7, 2010

With sales expected to exceed $1 billion by 2014, the next generation of sensing components—including accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and pressure sensors—will support breakthrough applications and engaging user-interface experiences.

LONDON /PRNewswire/ -- Motion sensing components are rapidly becoming part of the handset architecture, and these will support the development of breakthrough applications and engaging user-interface experiences. In a recent study of handset motion sensors by ARCchart, the research firm expects the market for accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers (compasses), and pressure sensors to exceed $1 billion by 2014.

The study examines the technology behind these sensors, the factors driving their incorporation into the handset, the vendor landscape, and the market opportunity. ARCchart concludes that the market for these handset components will grow substantially over the coming five years. Combined shipments of these components will grow from 271 million units in 2009 to 2.3 billion by 2014, with a combined market value of $1.1 billion. Accelerometers are expected to see the greatest device penetration, with 55% of phones containing this component by 2014, while pressure sensors will see the least penetration. However, penetration in smartphones will be substantially higher. About 60% of these devices are expected to have a gyroscope in five years.

The most significant factor that will drive demand for embedded motion sensors will be the development of innovative applications, such as augmented reality and in-building navigation, which take advantage of the rotation, acceleration, direction, and altitude data generated by these sensors. In addition, the advancements component vendors are making in combining multiple sensors onto a single chip is helping reduce costs and improve time to market.

Motion sensors represent a significant market opportunity for all stakeholders across the handset value chain, particularly for those participating in the smartphone segment. Sensors were scarce three years ago, with most component manufacturers focused on other industries, such as automotive and medical. However, with over a billion units soon to be shipping annually, the mobile phone industry represents an enormous market opportunity for sensor manufacturers.

"In a climate of increased competition and falling ASP, support for advanced sensor interfaces, as Apple has done with gyroscopes in the iPhone 4, provides handset OEMs with clear technical differentiations, and also helps drive the upgrade cycle," said Peter Crocker, the lead analyst on the ARCchart study. "This is becoming particularly important in the smartphone segment of the market, which has become highly competitive."

Motion sensors provide developers with a rich set of tools for building intelligent and intuitive media experiences and enhanced UI, navigation, and content creation functions on mobile devices. They will allow developers to explore the heights of their creative imagination: one developer might exploit an embedded pressure sensor for a stair-climbing game while another may use the same component for a weather prediction application. Innovative applications translate into higher app sales and increased revenue for developers.

About ARCchart
ARCchart is an independent research and consulting firm, focusing on all aspects of the wireless communications sector. The motion sensors findings are included in the firm's "Mobile Phone Sensors and Sensory Interfaces" study, which provides an analysis of the new range of embedded handset components fueling the next generation of intelligent mobile applications and enhanced UI experiences on mobile. For more information, call +44-33-00-88-1355.

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