Bloomberg announced: Sony’s 24-hour effort to produce image sensors is not the answer
This fiscal year, Sony has more than doubled the amount of capital spent on its image sensor business to 280 billion yen (about $2.6 billion). . Among other actions of Sony to improve the performance of this sector, it is possible to mention the construction of a new factory in Nagasaki, which of course will be put into operation in April 2021.
According to Shi Meizu, considering the current situation, even this amount of investment (in order to increase the production capacity) may not be enough. “We [necessarily] have to apologize to our customers because we can’t make enough .”
Nowadays, having three camera lenses on the back of a smartphone is quite a common phenomenon as manufacturers focus mainly on camera specifications to encourage customers to upgrade their smartphones. For example, the latest models of Samsung and Huawei have cameras with a resolution of more than 40 megapixels, and while benefiting from a depth sensor, they can take wide-angle images with a wide lens. Apple this year by equipping iPhone 11 Pro’s triple camera has joined this campaign. This phenomenon is not only limited to flagships, and today we see that even low-end and mid-range models are launched with multiple cameras on the back. That is why, even as the smartphone market continues to grow, Sony’s image sensor sales have been on the rise.
Mashiro Wakasugi, a Bloomberg analyst, while introducing the camera as the biggest differentiator for smartphone brands, pointed out that nowadays everyone likes the pictures they share on social networks. , to have a beautiful appearance. He further confirmed that Sony has successfully managed to surf on the wave of manufacturers’ demand.
According to the report of Bloomberg, after PlayStation, the semiconductor sector is considered to be the most profitable business of Sony. In October, Sony raised its chip unit operating profit forecast by 38 percent. In this way, after a jump of about 60% in the profit of the chip unit in the second quarter, it is estimated that this Sony business will achieve a profit equal to 200 billion yen at the end of the company’s fiscal year (in March 2020). Also, according to Sony’s forecast, the income of the semiconductor division will grow by 18% to 1.04 trillion yen, with 86% of this income related to the sale of image sensors.
A large amount of the profit of the semiconductor unit is supposed to be reinvested in the development of this sector. In this way, during the three-year period ending March 2021, Sony will invest 700 billion yen ($6.4 billion) in this way. Apparently, most of the expenses will be spent on increasing the monthly production capacity of image sensors. Currently, the production capacity is equal to 109,000 silicon tablets, which will be increased to 138,000 with Sony’s plans. Samsung – which is Sony’s biggest competitor in this field – in its latest announcement of the company’s financial results, announced an increase in production capacity in order to meet market demand. According to Samsung, this demand will remain strong for some time.
Sony claimed in May (based on revenue) that it has 51 percent of the global image sensor market and plans to increase this share to 60 percent by fiscal year 2025. Shimizu expects to increase Sony’s market share by a few percent by the end of this financial year.
Like many important achievements of the late 20th century – such as transistors, lasers and solar cells – image sensors were also invented at Bell Labs. But it was Sony that succeeded in commercializing “charge-coupled devices”. The first product in this field was an “electronic eye” installed on All Nippon Airways’ jumbo jets in 1980 to broadcast landing and takeoff images from the cockpit. Kazuo Iwama, known as VP, one of the key people in the early development of the product, died before successfully launching the film camera business in 1985. It is interesting to know that in order to appreciate Iwama’s role in the development of image sensors, a CCD sensor has been worked on his tombstone.
Currently, Sony is looking to produce a new generation of sensors that see the surrounding world in 3D. This company has used a method called “time of flight” in order to create depth models with many details. In this method, invisible laser pulses are emitted from the sensor and its return time is measured. Using this method, better portraits can be taken thanks to a more accurate selection of the background for blurring. Another application of this method is in mobile games; Where virtual characters are realistically displayed and interact with the real environment around them. It should be noted that if the time-of-flight or TOF sensor is installed on the front of the phone, it will be possible to use hand gestures and facial movements for moving avatars.
Samsung and Huawei previously They have unveiled their flagship models with 3D sensors. Rumors suggest that Apple also plans to launch in 2020 equip the iPhone with a 3D camera. Shimeizo declined to comment on the company’s image sensor customers, but said that Sony is ready to meet the significant increase in demand (which is likely to occur next year). According to him, this year is the zero year for TOF sensors. As soon as they see the interesting applications of this technology, people will be attracted to buy new phones.
At the end, it should be noted that Sony’s smartphone business is not profitable for this company and Sony sells only 6.5 million smartphones in a year. However, Sony announced in May that it had no plans to sell the company’s smartphone division. Sony’s latest flagship – which is apparently called the Xperia 3 – is scheduled to be unveiled in February at the Mobile World Congress (located in Barcelona, Spain).