Apple, Samsung fuel rise in mobile device sensor sales

Apple and Samsung are fuelling growth in the sales of sensors for mobile devices that will see the value of the market grow threefold between 2012 and 2018, analysts predict.

Research company IHS forecasts sales of sensors for mobile phones and tablets will grow from $2.3 billion (€1.8 billion) in 2012 to $6.5 billion in 2018, as more device vendors incorporate sensors including biometric scanners found in Apple's iPhone 5 and latest iPhone 6 smartphones, and heart rate monitors as fitted to Samsung's Galaxy S5.

IHS states the fastest growing segment for sensors in mobile devices is emerging devices, which the company categorises as fingerprint, optical pulse, humidity, gas, ultraviolet, and thermal imaging sensors. The company predicts the value of this segment will grow from $24 million in 2012 to $2.3 billion in 2018.

"The next wave of sensor technology in smartphones and tablets has arrived," said Marwan Boustany, IHS senior analyst for micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and sensors.

"Led by Apple and Samsung, the mobile market is moving beyond simply integrating established devices like motion sensors and now is including next-generation features like fingerprint and environment/health sensors. Adoption of these newer devices will drive the expansion of the mobile sensor device market in the coming years," Boustany added.

The research company forecasts that shipments of devices with fingerprint scanners will hit 1.4 billion units in 2020, compared to an estimated 317 million units in 2014. While IHS credits Apple with spurring the market by including a biometric scanner in its iPhone 5, the company notes rivals including Samsung and Huawei are also now in on the act, with the Galaxy S5 and Ascend Mate 7 respectively.

IHS predicts growing demand for fingerprint sensors from Asia Pacific, where they are tipped to play a key role in user authentication for nascent mobile financial services. The company tips Chinese smartphone vendors to drive the next generation of sensors, and noted that device manufacturers in the country have already begun incorporating gas sensors into their smartphones.

Gas sensors are tipped to begin contributing to overall mobile device sensor sales in 2015, with thermal imaging sensors expected to do the same from 2018 onwards. Today, fingerprint scanners are the leading sensor device in mobile devices, followed by optical pulse, humidity, and UV sensors.

For more:
- see this IHS release

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