3 Key Areas In Microelectronics That You Should Be Paying Attention To

Ryan Kendall
Sep 13 · 4 min read

Emergent technologies within the microelectronics market are pushing the space to new heights, seeing both high growth and adoption.

Key Takeaways:

  • The growth in the antenna, wearable, and semiconductor market is heavily driven by increasing consumer demand for more efficient electronic devices.
  • Firms operating in microelectronic markets invest in R&D to strategically differentiate themselves from competitors.

Antennas:

The antenna market was valued at $18.1B in 2020 and is expected to grow to $37.96B by 2028 at a CAGR of 9.70%. Growth in the antenna market is being driven primarily by the rising demand for new and more efficient consumer electronics, like laptops, wearables, tablets, and smartphones. These devices are packed with antennas utilized for GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi technology. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded demand for consumer electronics, with people spending more time at home using significantly more data. North America is projected to control a major portion of the antenna market in the future as the region has the existing telecommunications infrastructure and investments into new from military and defense, satellite, and cellular communication.

Obstacles to the antenna market revolve around issues of efficiency and performance for high-speed applications. New antenna technologies can only be fully effective if they are supported by the necessary wireless communication infrastructure. That is, extremely fast phones can only transmit data as quickly as satellites and towers allow them to,

As companies look to meet the growing demand for consumer electronics at home and abroad, many are making considerable investments into R&D across a few key verticals, given the advent of 5G technology and the need to improve network resiliency across devices. These verticals include the development of new data infrastructure for military and defense, satellite, and cellular communications in coordination with developments in antenna technologies.

Wearables:

The Wearable Technology Market was valued at $27.91B in 2020 and is expected to reach $74.03 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 17.65%. As producers add features that allow users to monitor their health in real-time, like the Apple Watch Series 4’s EKG monitor and fall detection app, consumer demand (especially amongst older generations) increases. Wearable technology isn’t restricted to health monitoring, however. Major video game manufacturers are working to lower costs and increase the availability of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) products in response to consumer demand. Increases in demand, disposable income, and the availability of wearables vendors (Apple, Fitbit, Garmin) have primed North America to hold a major share of the wearables market.

The supply-chain breakdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic presents an obstacle to market growth. China is a leading producer of wearable technology and is a hub of raw materials suppliers, so companies will need to work around supply-chain shortages to maintain a steady supply. Additionally, as wearable technology advances, data security concerns are likely to pose challenges to market growth.

Companies looking to operate in the wearables market are investing in technology that seamlessly integrates wearables into an everyday workflow. The market for wristwear specifically is expected to grow in importance because of its multi-functional applications and integration of advanced technologies and is valued at $77.9B in 2021.

Semiconductors:

The semiconductor market was valued at $439.8B in 2020 and is projected to grow to $679.6B by 2026 at a CAGR of 7.6%. The industry experiences a rapid growth rate as semiconductors are the building blocks for almost all of modern technology. Technological advancements are primarily driven by the need for innovation in similar industries. Increasing demand in the electronics market for faster speeds and more effective power dissipation, consumers expect semiconductors to iterate at a rapid pace. The Asia-Pacific region is poised for high growth as the consumption of semiconductor components is rapidly increasing in China, Japan, and South Korea. Additionally, both substantial electronic end-user growth and a rise in equipment production contribute to growth in the region.

Competition in the semiconductor market is fierce. If a competitor’s product is even slightly better than another producer, they typically capture a significant portion of industry revenue. A McKinsey report found that top companies focus on one product segment to differentiate themselves from the market. From 2015–2019, the top five companies (out of 249) with the highest yearly profit, Samsung, Intel, TSMC, Qualcomm, and Apple, yielded 55% of total profits ($64.2B)

Winning market players invest heavily in R&D to successfully iterate a product segment ahead of their competition. R&D isn’t just a tool to win market share, however; it’s also essential to control development costs as expenses have risen in the past ten years. Return on investment isn’t always immediate, as companies usually take between 2–5 years to install and ramp production up to full capacity.