updated 01:00 pm EDT, Mon May 2, 2011
Attributed to mics, accelerometers, gyroscopes
Apple has become the second largest buyer of MEMS (microelectromechanical system) sensors in the world, claims research firm iSuppli. During 2010 the company bought approximately $195 million worth of MEMS sensors, a 116.7 percent increase over the $90 million spent in 2009. The new figure puts Apple ahead of Nintendo, which slipped 11.5 percent from 2009 to $123 million, and just $5 million shy of Samsung, which grew 46 percent to $200 million.
iSuppli reports that 2010 MEMS deliveries to Apple included gyroscopes from STMicroelectronics, specifically for the iPhone 4, the iPod touch and later the iPad 2. Accelerometers were bought not only for iOS devices but MacBooks and the iPod nano. Acoustic wave duplexers were bought from TriQuint Semiconductor, but only for iPhones and 3G iPads. Relying on die from Infineon, Analog Devices, Knowles Electronics and AAC supplied microphones for the fifth-gen Nano, the iPhone 4, the iPad 2 and assorted headsets.
Nintendo's decline does not appear to be related to its struggle to compete with iOS devices in mobile gaming. Instead the company is only really dependent on accelerometers and gyroscopes, which are used in the 3DS and Wii. "Nintendo's MEMS sensor orders declined primarily because of the market saturation of Wii video game controllers, which use accelerometers," says iSuppli analyst Jeremie Bouchaud.