iPhone, Palm Pre, BlackBerry Boost Popularity of Accelerometer Technology
Accelerometers are expected to be included in one-third of mobile phones shipped
in 2010, according to new data from iSuppli. The Apple iPhone, Research In
Motion's BlackBerry Storm and the newly released Palm Pre have boosted the
popularity of accelerometer technology.
iSuppli annually tracks the features of phones from more than 30 manufacturers, accounting for 99 percent of total cell phone shipments. Since Jan. 1, the company reports it has seen accelerometers in 18.3 percent of models.
According to iSuppli, approximately 1 to 2 percent of mobile phones had accelerometers in 2006. By 2008, the number had grown to just under 10 percent. This year's numbers, again, are nearing 20 percent, and 2010 is on target for approximately 33 percent.
"By next year, one out of three mobile phones shipped worldwide will include an accelerometer, up from one out of five in 2009, and one out of 11 in 2008," said J??Â«r??Â«mie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst of MEMS (microelectronic-mechanical systems) for iSuppli.
MEMS bring together silicon-based microelectronics and micromachining technology, making systems-on-a-chip technology possible. If microelectronic integrated circuits are the "brains" of a system, as MEMSnet.org has called them, then MEMS provide the eyes and arms, by allowing those systems to sense and control the environment.
"While few consumers know what accelerometers are, they do know that when they turn their iPhones to the side, their screens automatically adjust from portrait to landscape view, or that when they shake their handsets they can roll a pair of virtual dice in a game of chance," said Bouchaud. "With their capability to detect and measure motion, accelerometers are the critical enablers of these features, which are an essential element of what makes these smartphones so popular. These capabilities are now spreading beyond smartphones to other types of handsets."
In its teardown of the iPhone 3GS, iSuppli found a three-axis MEMS accelerometer from STMicroelectronics, and in its Palm Pre teardown, it found a Kionix accelerometer and inclinometer.
iSuppli reported that, as of January, 38 percent of new Nokia handsets have integrated motion-sensing accelerometers, and of the top mobile phone OEMs, Sony Ericsson has the highest penetration, with 18 of 19 new mobile phone models featuring an accelerometer. LG and Samsung are also offering new devices with three-axis accelerometers.
The BlackBerry Storm is another popular smartphone with an accelerometer, and the movie-friendly Toshiba TG01 offered by Orange has one as well.
Global revenue from sales of MEMS for mobile phones, according to iSuppli, is expected to reach $1.6 billion in 2013, up from 2008 revenue of $460.9 million.