DLP revival returns Texas Instruments to MEMS leadership in 2010

April 06, 2011 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Five years after losing its leadership position in the global market for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), Texas Instruments Inc., reclaimed the top spot in 2010 because of resurgent demand for the company's Digital Light Processing (DLP) chips, new IHS iSuppli research indicates.

Texas Instruments in 2010 sold $793 million worth of MEMS, up an impressive 24.9 percent from $635 million in 2009. This allowed the company to surpass the previous leader Hewlett-Packard Co., whose sales were slightly down in 2010 at $782.1 million, compared to $784.5 million in 2009.

Ranking of the world’s Top 10 MEMS suppliers in 2010. Courtesy of IHS iSuppli. For a larger image .

“Texas Instruments’ fortunes in the MEMS market have risen and fallen based on the success of its DLP technology,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst MEMS and sensors for IHS. “Until the year 2005, the company had built a leadership position in the MEMS market on the popularity of its DLP display technology in rear-projection television sets. However, the company fell from the top spot as demand and pricing for DLP chips dropped because of the disappearance of the rear-projection television market. Now with the rising demand for DLPs in front-projectors and pico projectors, Texas Instruments managed to reclaim the lead.”

The fall and rise of DLP

Having peaked at $920 million in 2004, Texas Instruments’ DLP revenue dropped by 31 percent during the next six years to dwindle to $635 million in 2009. The large size of the DLP market sapped the MEMS market’s growth during this period.

However, sales of DLP chips are on the rise again.

Much of the renewed demand is being driven by the front projector segment of the business and education markets, especially in China and India. In the front projector area, DLP is grabbing market share from liquid crystal display (LCD) technology. One advantage of DLP over LCD is capability to project 3D content which is a bonus for physics or biology presentations in the education segment.

Meanwhile, DLP is benefitting from the explosive growth of the pico projector market.

Pico projectors are front projectors weighing less than 2 pounds (about 0.9 kilograms) and sized at