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The latest figures show Sony still leads the CMOS image sensor market, although Samsung is catching up

Is Sony's grip on the image-sensor market slipping? (Source: Sony)
Is Sony's grip on the image-sensor market slipping? (Source: Sony)
A new market analysis report shows that Sony retained the greatest share of the CMOS image sensor market in 2020, while Samsung came in second. Then again, the latter OEM's actual sales were seen to rise compared to 2019, whereas those of Sony dropped slightly year-on-year. This was due to a formerly major player virtually dropping out of the smartphone market.

Sony was found to have held a 40% share of the CMOS-based image sensor market in 2020, compared to 42% in 2019. Samsung Electronics took the #2 spot, ahead of Omnivision (with 12%) and STMicroelectronics (6%) with 22%, a 1% year-on-year (YoY) increase.

This may sound like slow progress; however, Samsung has only been in this industry since 2002, and had risen to attain about 20% of the market by 2018, also pushing names one might also expect to see in this context such as Panasonic and Canon down to a ~!% share by 2020. It shipped 13% more units YoY in 2020, whereas Sony's image CMOS division sold 5% less YoY.

This decrease may have been influenced by the US trade ban imposed on Huawei, a major customer for high-end, cutting-edge smartphone camera sensors under normal circumstances. Samsung, on the other hand, is in a position to shore its sales for its own mobile CMOS up as they are incorporated into its own phones, particularly those of the premium variety.

Then again, Sony also asserts that sales of silicon made for digital cameras were bolstered for similar reasons, particularly as consumers seemed to be more interested in buying new units during the pandemic. In addition, the OEM reportedly aims to gain 60% of the image CMOS market by 2025, through strategic moves such as instituting a new plant (Fab 5 in Nagasaki), focused on the manufacture of more smartphone sensors.

Then again, Samsung may also strengthen its position in this market going forward through diversification. For example, it has moved to establish itself as a name in the emerging sector of automotive CMOS; for example, its ISOCELL Auto 4AC is likely to become a go-to component as that market rebounds.

Sony hangs onto its #1 spot in the image CMOS market for 2020. (Source: Yole Développement via TheElec)
Sony hangs onto its #1 spot in the image CMOS market for 2020. (Source: Yole Développement via TheElec)
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 08 > The latest figures show Sony still leads the CMOS image sensor market, although Samsung is catching up
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2021-08-15 (Update: 2021-08-15)