It's a good time to be in gyroscope sales, according to market research firm iSuppli.
According to an iSuppli report June 9, Apple's June 7 introduction of the iPhone 4, the newest version of its popular smartphone that will go on sale June 24, is expected to set off enormous growth in the gyroscope market.
The gyroscope's inclusion in the iPhone 4 confirms iSuppli's earlier forecast that the component would begin appearing in smartphones this summer. The firm now expects sales of gyroscopes to rise from zero in 2009 to 26 million units in 2010 and up to 285.9 million in 2014, with revenues of about $220 million.
What exactly does the part do? Introducing the iPhone 4 at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs played a virtual game on the smartphone to demonstrate the gyroscope's appeal. "Jobs spun around on the stage, causing the gyroscope in the iPhone 4 he was holding to detect a change in direction, thus moving a piece in the game," wrote iSuppli.
Another use of gyroscope technology that many consumers may already be well acquainted with is the motion sensitivity it brings to the Nintendo Wii.
"Because of Apple's role as a technology trendsetter, a multitude of mobile handset OEMs are expected to offer smartphones that integrate gyroscopes," said J??Â«r??Â«mie Bouchaud, an iSuppli principal analyst, in a statement. "This will cause shipments to rise by 157 percent in 2011 and by 60 percent in 2012 and 2013."
Until a teardown of the iPhone 4 is performed, the source of Apple's gyroscopes is unclear, though iSuppli suspects the supplier is STMicroelectronics-the "the sole supplier of accelerometers for previous models of the iPhone, as well as for the iPad and the iPod line," said Bouchaud. He named InvenSense as another gyroscope manufacturer that stands to gain.
Moving forward, the main applications for the parts in smartphones will be in combination with an accelerometer, stated iSuppli, followed by uses for image stabilization and "dead-reckoning" for in-vehicle navigation units. By 2012, consumers will begin seeing gyroscopes used for more indoor navigation, paired "with an accelerometer, compass and pressure sensor for floor accuracy."