Apple isn't the only company reaping the benefits of increased sales of the iPhone and iPad. IHS iSuppli is reporting that sales of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) gyroscopes have skyrocketed as well thanks to use of the devices in Apple's mobile line. (Photo above is of an iPhone 4 MEMS gyro -- not this kind of gyro -- component.)
MEMS gyroscopes accounted for US$665.4 million in revenues in 2011, compared with only $394.5 million in 2010 -- a 66% rise in revenues in just one year. IHS iSuppli explains the popularity of MEMS gyroscopes in today's mobile electronic devices:
"The rise of gyroscopes to the top was in large part due to the boom in 3-axis versions of the device, used mostly in tandem with 3-axis accelerometers for more accurate motion sensing. While accelerometers are responsible for correctly orienting phones and tablets to the viewer's perspective whether the devices are held vertically or horizontally, gyroscopes improve the motion-based interface, especially for gaming. Emerging applications for gyroscopes in smartphones also include optical image stabilization and navigation-related functions."
In Apple's iPad and iPhone, the MEMS gyroscopes come from one supplier: STMicroelectronics. Half of the company's 2011 MEMS revenues came from sales to Apple. In the near future, it's expected that companies like Apple will switch to what are called 6-axis inertial measurement units, which combine the 3-axis gyros and 3-axis accelerometers onto one chip.