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Knowles, Infineon hold the upper hand in MEMS microphone

Posted: 19 Jun 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS  microphone 

The complex supply chain built around the requirements of Apple Inc. divides the global market for microelectromechanical system (MEMS) microphone chips into two segments led by suppliers Knowles Corp. and Infineon Technologies AG, according to an IHS Technology report.

Knowles of the U.S. in 2013 was the biggest supplier of packaged MEMS microphones ready for assembly on printed circuit boards, according to a new report from IHS Technology. Germany's Infineon, meanwhile, was the leader among the firms supplying bare MEMS dies to MEMS microphone makers. Knowles accounted for 59 per cent of the market's total revenue among packaged MEMS microphone suppliers, while Infineon owned 78 per cent of the MEMS die trade in terms of unit shipment.

MEMS microphone

Apple matters to MEMS microphone suppliers

Among microphone suppliers, Illinois- based Knowles remained far and away the leader, even managing to increase its revenue share last year to 59 per cent, up from 55 per cent in 2012. Knowles has been particularly successful in growing its business, via high-performance microphones priced at a premium, for Samsung and particularly for Apple, which is the leading buyer of MEMS microphones and dictates supply chain dynamics in the area. Knowles supplies, for instance, two of the three high-performance MEMS microphones in Apple's iPhone 5s, as well as one of three in the iPhone 5.

MEMS microphones are increasingly important differentiators in smartphones, with the highest-quality devices proving helpful in ambient-noise cancellation and also in delivering crystal-clear audio in high-definition video. Apple was the first to use high-performance MEMS microphones, initially seen in 2012 with the iPhone 5, with Samsung then following suit shortly afterward via its Galaxy S4 and Note 3 smartphones. MEMS microphones are now also found in tablets like the Apple iPad, as well as in Apple headsets.

At a distant second after Knowles was AAC with 13 per cent revenue share, followed by No. 3 Goertek with 7 per cent share; both suppliers are from China whose business also heavily depends on Apple. AAC supplies one of the three high-performance microphones in the iPhone 5 and is now in the 5s, while Goertek is the main supplier for the MEMS microphone in the headset that sells along with the iPhone. AAC grew 8 per cent, and Goertek had even greater growth at 35 per cent as it started delving into high-performance microphones for mobile handsets.


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