Light sensors market to grow 16 percent between 2013 and 2016

Samsung, Apple and Chinese OEMs will drive revenue in the light sensor market to grow 16 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to a new report released today from IHS Inc., a global source of critical information and insight.

The latest MEMS & Sensors report from IHS, Shining a Light on a Colourful Market, found that revenues will reach $767 million in 2016, a 16 percent rise in three years (2013 to 2016).

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

Apple and Samsung lead the pack, but Chinese firms are on their heels

In 2014, Samsung accounted for 43 percent of light sensor spending in handsets. The company spent $271.8 million 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 $129.5 million in 2014. Apple accounted for 19 percent 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 because solutions that offer both the size and performance it seeks should be available by this time.

Chinese Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) represented 23 percent 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 characterized 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.”

Top sensor suppliers and new champions

Ams claimed the top spot 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. Ams shipped 744 million sensors in 2014.

Maxim followed in second place. “Maxim managed to be a top performer in the consumer light sensor market, with 132 million 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 is 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 $25 million for a 69 percent revenue growth.”



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