iPhone 4 Sounds Starting Gun for Smartphone Gyroscope Market

Friday 11th June 2010 - 18:27

Monday’s introduction of the iPhone 4 is set to trigger explosive growth in the market for gyroscopes used in cell phones, as a flood of competitors vie to emulate the feature, says iSuppli.

According to the research group, global unit shipments of gyroscopes in mobile handsets are expected to rise to 285 million in 2014, up from 26 million in 2010 and from zero in 2009.

The integration of the gyroscope in the iPhone 4, which is set to begin shipping on June 24, confirms iSuppli’s forecast that these parts would make their first appearance in smart phones this summer.

“Because of Apple’s role as a technology trendsetter, a multitude of mobile handset OEMs are expected to offer smart phones that integrate gyroscopes,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst, Microelectromechanical Systems, for iSuppli. “This will cause shipments to rise by 157 percent in 2011 and by 60 percent in 2012 and 2013.”

Mobile handset makers until recently have shown little interest in gyroscopes, Bouchaud noted. However, the success of the Nintendo Wii Motion Plus video game console demonstrated the consumer appeal of gyroscopes for game playing. Meanwhile, InvenSense and STMicroelectronics have offered a cascade of new gyroscopes with 2 and 3 axes, making the technology more accessible.

“STMicroelectronics is the sole supplier of accelerometers for previous models of the iPhone, as well as for the iPad and the iPod line,” Bouchaud said.

“Because of this, we believe that STMicroelectronics is also the supplier of the gyroscope in the iPhone 4. However, we will have to wait for confirmation from iSuppli’s Teardown Analysis Service when it dissects the iPhone 4 in late June.”

According to the analysts, the main applications for gyroscopes in cell phones in 2010 and 2011 will comprise a user interface utilizing a gyroscope in combination with an accelerometer, followed by image stabilization and dead-reckoning for in-vehicle navigation.

From 2012, gyroscopes will start to be used for indoor navigation in combination with an accelerometer, compass and pressure sensor for floor accuracy. By 2014, the market for gyroscopes in cell phones is expected to amount to $220 million.

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