The total number of audio signal chain ICs shipped for use in mobile devices reached almost 4 billion units in 2013. Strong growth is predicted as improvements in audio quality and volume are required by mobile device vendors whilst “always on” functionality is desired for voice control applications, particularly in smartphones. This gives opportunities for growth of various audio signal chain components including audio speaker amplifiers and MEMS microphones, at the same time integration of audio functionality into audio hubs continues to drive innovation and change the market place.
Consolidation is a continuing trend in this market with one deal standing out from the rest, Cirrus Logic’s acquisition of Wolfson Microelectronics is set to create a major shake-up in the industry and make life even tougher for the combined companies’ competitors. For many years both Cirrus and Wolfson have been strong competitors in this market with the advent and growth of the smartphone market each has generally relied on separate customers for growth: Cirrus being particularly successful with CODECs and audio amplifiers used in Apple iPhones and iPads, Wolfson being successful with a wider range of customers including Samsung, LG and Motorola. Together the two companies will be a power house, particularly within the audio CODEC & audio hub market, here they have a combined market share of almost 50% in 2013.