White goods, growing market

The market for home appliances will be worth more than $2bn in 2012, according to market forecaster, IMS Research.

Cookers and washing machines are not mundane items they are money markers for electronic component suppliers.

Suppliers hope to benefit from a boom in new electronics rather than a boom in appliance sales.

Electronic circuits are fundamental to motor control and sensor systems, but new technology areas such as touch-control devices and smart power communications interfaces are seen as big opportunities for chip suppliers.  

“Over the next five years unit shipments of global appliances to grow modestly at just 4 to 6% a year,” said IMS, “but this contrasts with the revenues from their semiconductor content which are forecast to grow at double that rate.”

Analyst Liz Cruz goes on to say that “the second and more direct factor creating demand for semiconductors in appliances is the increased use of electronics in them, itself driven by several factors”.

Inverter-based variable-speed drives are being adopted to improve power efficiency, and similarly the increasing use of variable-speed motor control increases the demand for IGBT modules.

IGBTs accounted for the most power semiconductor revenues in major home appliances in 2010.

And what of the microcontroller in your fridge?

Cruz comments that “while the market is currently dominated by 8-bit microcontrollers, IMS Research forecasts substantial growth for 16-bit and 32-bit types in most appliance categories.”

Increased shipments of major home appliances and the increased electronic content in them will continue to drive semiconductor use in appliances. IMS Research forecasts the market to grow to nearly $3 billion in 2015, or almost double the revenues in 2010.

According to IMS, the major markets are still China, India, and Latin America.

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