Light sensor market to grow 16% by 2016

13th March 2015
Jordan Mulcare

Samsung, Apple and Chinese OEMs will drive revenue in the light sensor market to grow 16% between 2013 and 2016, according to a new report released by IHS. The latest MEMS & Sensors report from IHS, Shining a Light on a Colourful Market, found that revenues will reach $767m in 2016, with a 16% rise in three years.

“Between 2013 and 2015, there has been a rapid adoption of light sensor units, mostly thanks to Samsung,” said Marwan Boustany, Senior Analyst, MEMS and Sensors, IHS Technology. “Samsung has led the mass adoption of RGB sensors, gesture sensors, optical pulse sensors and even UV sensors in this timeframe.”

In 2014, Samsung accounted for 43% of light sensor spending in handsets. The company spent $271.8m on light sensors in 2014, with a sizeable portion of this coming from the apathetically received pulse sensor.

Apple is the second largest buyer of light sensors after Samsung and spent $129.5m in 2014. Apple accounted for 19% of light sensor spending in handsets in 2014 because Apple uses custom and high performance parts. IHS forecasts that by 2017, Apple will adopt a 3-in-1 package as solutions that offer both the size and performance needed won't be available until this time.

Chinese OEMs represented 23% of light sensor spending in 2014, mostly on standard low cost components and a small percentage of high cost, high performance parts.

“The Chinese market remains a place where anything and everything can be tried, as companies try to find any and every means to differentiate, or at least match flagships from Samsung and Apple,” Boustany said. “Chinese OEMs are also characterised by preferring to have several suppliers for their sensors, ranging from three to six or more suppliers. The Chinese market is very competitive with price being the key element for most OEMs.”

ams claimed the top spot, shipping 744m sensors in2014, in terms of revenue and units thanks to its range of customers and its key design wins, with Samsung flagships and its spread across Apple products.

Maxim followed in second place. “Maxim managed to be a top performer in the consumer light sensor market, with 132m light sensors shipped in 2014, with the majority of these being optical pulse sensors going into Samsung’s flagship devices."

The important news in 2014 was the rapid rise of companies like Sitronix, Elan and Everlight. “Sitronix has been successful at being a second or third source to a range of top tier companies, which means it can grow safely and rapidly,” Boustany said. “In 2014, it achieved about $25m for a 69% revenue growth.”

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