IHS: “3D Compass Penetration High in Mid-Range Smartphones and Saturated in High-End”

In 2008 a three-axis compass was priced at around $1.40; today, the price of a magnetometer used in a GPS-enabled mobile phone at large volume OEMs is already under $0.20 and is set to fall even further over the next five years, explained market research IHS in a report issued today.

The low end smartphone market is the only segment where there is still an upcoming growth in mobile.

Led by this ongoing price erosion in the electronic compass sensor market, year-over-year semiconductor-based magnetic sensor revenues grew less than 1 percent in 2014. However, the industry’s growth rate is on track to reach nearly 4 percent in 2015, helped by the automotive market that represents 55 percent of the business.

In the automotive sensor penetration is still increasing in mature markets like North America, Europe and Japan. China and other emerging markets, for which the bulk of vehicles have relatively low electronics content today, are rapidly adding more sensors for improved safety, greater comfort and better fuel economy.

Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) has maintained a strong hold on the market for 3-D magnetometers since 2008, and the company still boasts the industry’s least expensive software implementation.

“Samsung and other large customers buying in large quantities have subsequently forced the price down to a point that no other supplier can compete with; however, an aggressive pricing policy has also been pursued by Yamaha and other companies, which has added to the rapid commoditization of the market,” said Richard Dixon, principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS.

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