VCSEL makers gaining from thriving Bluetooth headset sales
Siu Han, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Friday 19 April 2019 0 Toggle Dropdown
Driven by sales boom for voice-controlled and smart speakers, Bluetooth headphones have seen growing popularity, prompting web giants and consumer leectronics vendors to jump on the bandwagon, which is in turn providing strong growth momentum for upstream suppliers of VCSEL components in 2019, according to industry sources.
Persistent robust sales of Apple's AirPods have inspired not only major traditional earphone makers Bose and Schneider but also web giants such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, as well as consumer brands including Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi to roll out their own models, fueling competitions in the global market for wireless Bluetooth headsets, the sources said.
Among them, Samsung has launched Galaxy Buds in conjunction with its new Galaxy S10 series flagship smartphones. Huawei has also released FreeLace wireless Bluetooth headphones and FreeBuds Lite model while Xiaomi has unveiled its Mi Bluetooth headset Air.
Since releasing its AirPods in late 2016, Apple has dominated the global market for Bluetooth headphones. Counterpoint Research estimated that Apple commanded a 75% share of global sales of 46 million pairs of Bluetooth headsets in 2018, and that the global market scale is expected to expand sharply to 129 million sets in 2020.
As a stable supplier of low-power VCSEL components for AirPods, Taiwan's HLJ Technology has seen its production lines running at full capacity and its shipments pick up month by month, the sources said. The company is mulling expanding its customer base to include non-Apple clients and will not rule out increasing its 6-inch epitaxial wafer lines to meet the increasing demand, they added.
Meanwhile, TrueLight, another Taiwan maker of active optical components, has ventured into the supply chains of China vendors Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo with its VCSEL components, with shipments already kicking off in early 2019, the sources said.
TrueLight estimated its monthly shipments of low-power VCSEL components to surge to 20-25 million units in the second quarter and rise further to 30 million in early third quarter, the sources noted. The company is set to start shipments to Japanese clients in the fourth quarter, and expects shipments of VCSEL components for smartphone and Bluetooth headphone applications to contribute 20% of its annual revenues for 2019, they added.