Tablets, Smartphones Bolster Mobile Memory Semiconductor Market

The success of the iPhone and iPad, as well as Android smartphones, is boosting the mobile memory semiconductor market, iSuppli reports.

The mobile memory semiconductor space is set to experience healthy revenue growth in the next few years, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets like the iPad, according to IHS iSuppli€™s "Mobile & Embedded Memory Market Tracker" report.

IHS iSuppli projects revenue in this camp will reach $14.9 billion this year, up 6 percent from $14.1 billion last year. The picture gets even rosier in 2013, when revenue is forecast to grow 9 percent to $16.2 billion, as more smartphone and tablet products requiring higher memory densities enter the marketplace, IHS iSuppi predicts. Two years later, the mobile memory revenue will peak at $17.9 billion, the report says.

The forecast includes the flash memory segments of NAND (primarily used in memory cards, USB flash drives and solid-state drives) and NOR (which allows true random access), the NAND subsegment of embedded multimedia cards (eMMC) and the mobile dynamic RAM (DRAM) sector.

With projected revenue this year of $10.5 billion (a 14 percent uptick from last year), NAND flash storage is predicted to be the largest contributor to mobile memory market growth€”representing half the entire NAND market of $21 billion. Growth will be fueled mainly by the rise of Google Android-based mobile devices, whose operating systems require significantly more flash memory than do the Apple iPhone and iPad€™s iOS, according to the report.

€œThe mobile space has been the engine for overall memory growth in the last few years, and it continues to shape and define the success of suppliers participating in the memory market,€ Michael Yang, senior principal analyst for memory and storage at IHS iSuppli said in a statement. €œGiven the ongoing passion of consumers for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, the outlook for mobile memory remains exceedingly optimistic.€

As eMMC becomes a more viable mobile memory solution for smartphones and tablets, thanks to the combination of low-power consumption, a small footprint and high-density storage capacity, revenue will grow to $3.7 billion in 2012 from $2.8 billion in 2011, the report noted. Mobile DRAM revenue, boosted by tablets like the iPad, will reach $6.6 billion this year, up 12 percent from $5.9 billion in 2011.

€œThe future of mobile DRAM also looks bright, as it is forecast to account for more than 32 percent of all DRAM bits shipped in 2015€”a dramatic increase from a 6.2 percent share in 2009,€ the report said. €œWhile 2G-bit and 4G-bit shipments have become the volume leaders, 8G-bit mobile DRAM will become the sweet-spot density for handsets that sport the latest Android operating system, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.€

Intel€™s strong push of its Ultrabook notebooks platform, as well as the expected launch of the Windows 8 operating system by Microsoft later this year, is fueling optimism in a resurgence of the embedded memory segment of the PC market. The burgeoning tablet sector is also set to boost the embedded memory segment, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in excess of 4 percent through 2016, according to IHS iSuppli.