Apple Takes Top Spot as Largest Consumer of MEMS Microphones in 2011


Today, IHS iSuppli released a market brief showing that Apple jumped into the number one spot for worldwide purchasers of mircroelectromechanical system (MEMS) microphones due to sales growth in headsets, iPhones and iPads. Thanks to the overwhelming popularity of the iPad, Apple took the lead over its “frienemy” Samsung Electronics.

According to IHS iSuppli, Apple increased its order of MEMS microphones by 173 percent in 2011, reaching 349 million units, which is more than double its 2010 order total. Apple’s market share of MEMS microphone-buying accounts for 27 percent of overall purchasing, seven percent higher than the next highest company, Samsung.

“Apple in 2010 sounded the starting gun for the current boom in MEMS microphone sales when it adopted the devices in its iPhone 4,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst, MEMS and sensors, for IHS. “However, with the addition of MEMS microphones into the highly successful iPad 2 in 2011, Apple’s purchasing of the tiny devices went into overdrive. When combined with strong increases in its buys of MEMS microphones for iPhone headsets, Apple outstripped all other rivals to become the largest consumer of the devices, helping the drive the growth of the overall market.”

Apple uses two analog MEMS microphones for its iPhone 4 and 4S models as well as one in the included headset, plus one digital MEMS microphone in the iPad 2. Samsung uses dual MEMS microphones in it smartphones as well as the Galaxt Tab 10.1. Samsung’s market share was approximately the same in 2010 as it was in 2011, allowing Apple to move into the number one spot.

Overall sales for MEMS microphones have been growing rapidly within the last year. Unit shipments rose 82 percent with 1.3 billion units shipped worldwide. Part of the reason for this is the adoption of multiple microphones in smartphones for noise compression.  IHS iSuppli says MEMS microphones are “particularly important for voice commands such as those used in the Siri speech-recognition feature of the iPhone 4S.”

MEMS microphone growth is predicted to reach approximately 2.9 billion units by 2015.

About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik