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Apple is world's second-largest buyer of accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones


The popularity of Apple's iOS devices propelled the manufacturer to the top of the consumer microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors market. The millions of iOS devices in the wild are chock full of 3-axis gyroscopes, accelerometers, microphones and bulk acoustic wave (BAW) duplexers. In 2010, Apple's purchase of these sensor components rose 116.7 percent year over year and climbed to a whopping US$195 million.

This figure is only $5 million behind market leader Samsung, which purchased $200 million in MEMS sensors for its mobile phones and tablet devices in 2010. These numbers pushed Apple and Samsung above former leader Nintendo, which ruled the industry when the Wii and the Nintendo DS were at their pinnacle.

Apple's influence in the MEMS industry is extensive, according to Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst for MEMS at iSuppli. Bouchaud suggests Apple created a new market for these sensors with the original iPhone, which was one of the first handsets to include an accelerometer. Apple also revived the tablet industry, which relies heavily on MEMS sensors, with the debut of the iPad in 2010.

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