- THE MAGAZINE
According to a new market research study from Innovative Research and Products (iRAP) titled “Piezoelectric Crystals and Crystal Devices - Types, Materials, Applications, New Developments, Industry Structure and Global Markets,” the 2007 global piezoelectric crystal market has reached $4.8 billion and will increase further to $6.91 billion by the year 2012, with an annual average growth rate of 7.5%. This market is comprised of over 450 companies as manufacturers and suppliers. Crystal units (resonators) and filters comprise the bulk of the market and will continue their dominance through the forecast period.
The emergence of wireless communications and the increased need for data transmission using wireline communications have created a booming market for piezoelectric quartz crystals and crystal devices. Several new industrial and consumer applications have emerged, steering the industry from over-dependence on military demand to commercial applications.
In high-bandwidth systems, data transfer needs to be synchronized, creating a high demand for timing products. Crystal devices provide the precise timing signals needed to ensure reliable data transfer at high speeds in applications ranging from notebook computers to network switches. As systems continue to grow in processing power and complexity, the demand for these products will accelerate.
The demand for higher precision will also continue to increase as timing margins shrink in higher bandwidth systems. New high-end cell phone applications require low voltage, small packages and very low resistance to provide the highest fidelity sound. These mobile phones also offer functions beyond simple voice communication, including PDAs, digital still cameras and digital media players, with very low power consumption for extended battery life and an increased need for coordination among functions.
The continuing increase in electronic sophistication, as well as the penetration and proliferation of electronic products into new consumer and commercial applications, puts new demands on frequency control devices. This creates both technological challenges and new business opportunities for products offering faster speeds, higher stability relative to temperature, smaller surface-mountable packaging and lower unit cost.
Among the seven market segments of piezoelectric crystal frequency control devices, telecommunication has the largest market share, as much as 30%, followed by consumer applications including video games, audio, visual and amusement, computing, military and government, automotive, industrial, and medical.
In the 1980s, Japan was the world leader in mass-produced piezoelectric crystals and crystal devices. However, in the latter part of the 1990s, the balance shifted, with China and Korea taking over the low-end products. Japan still supplies the expensive and high-end products. At present, Japan and Korea are supplying quartz devices for microprocessor products and extended temperature products, while China is supplying large quantities of low-end products for applications such as toys and games.
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