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Briefly: Apple MEMS microphones, EU to rule on Google's Motorola takeover

Apple passed Samsung as the world's largest buyer of miniscule MEMS microphones in 2011, while a European Union judgment on Google's proposed buyout of Motorola Mobility is set to take place in February.

Apple MEMS microphones

Microelectromechanical system (MEMS) microphone sales skyrocketed in 2011 and saw Apple dethrone Samsung as the world's top buyer of the tiny devices used in many of the company's mobile products, reports component sales analytics provider IHS iSuppli.

Apple purchased a total of 349 million MEMS microphones in 2011, a 173 percent increase from the 128 million the company bought in 2010. The huge growth, attributed to massive iPhone and iPad sales, made the Cupertino, Calif., company the biggest global buyer of the components in 2011 and accounted for 27 percent of all MEMS microphone sales for the year.

Following Apple are handset and mobile product makers Samsung, LG and Motorola with market shares of 20%, 7% and 5%, respectively.

The architecture of a MEMS microphone consists of a pressure-sensitive diaphragm etched onto a semiconductor, and offer advantages over older electret condenser microphones like size, temperature stability and sound quality.

“Apple in 2010 sounded the starting gun for the current boom in MEMS microphone sales when it adopted the devices in its iPhone 4,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst of MEMS and sensors for IHS. “However, with the addition of MEMS microphones into the highly successful iPad 2 in 2011, Apple’s purchasing of the tiny devices went into overdrive. When combined with strong increases in its buys of MEMS microphones for iPhone headsets, Apple outstripped all other rivals to become the largest consumer of the devices, helping the drive the growth of the overall market.”

Knowles MEMS
Knowles MEMS microphone die | Source: Chipworks

Apple employs two analog MEMS microphones in its iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S smartphones for noise cancellation; one analog MEMS microphone in the iPhone headset; and one digital MEMS microphone for the iPad 2.

EU to decide on Google buyout of Motorola Mobility

European Union regulators have pegged Feb. 13, 2012 for a ruling to clear Google's buyout of Motorola after the original Jan. 10 date was suspended in December 2011, reports Reuters.

The EU Commission said Google has come forward with supporting documents that will allow regulators to make a decision on the proposed $12.5 billion takeover, which the internet giant hopes will grow its patent portfolio for the company's Android mobile platform.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said in September 2011 that the purchase would not only secure important intellectual property, but grant the company access to Motorola's "amazing products."


The buyout is also being studied by U.S. antitrust regulators.