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Sony can't keep up with image sensor demand due to multi-lens phones

Smartphone demand might be flat, but Sony is struggling to keep up with image sensor orders.

Published onDecember 24, 2019

sony xperia 5 camera

The smartphone industry has moved to triple and even quad camera setups in the last two years, offering a shooter for every situation. This trend means smartphone camera sensors have to be produced in greater numbers than ever before, and image sensor kingpin Sony says it simply can’t keep up with demand.

Sony said its image sensor factories are working constantly through the holidays for a second consecutive year, according to Bloomberg. This is the latest attempt by the Japanese firm to meet smartphone sensor demand, the outlet reports, as it’s more than doubled its spending on the division this fiscal year to $2.6 billion. The firm is also building a new factory that’s set to begin production in April 2021.

But Sony semiconductor head Terushi Shimizu said that it might fall short even with these moves in place.

“Judging by the way things are going, even after all that investment in expanding capacity, it might still not be enough,” Shimizu was quoted as saying. “We are having to apologize to customers because we just can’t make enough.”

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Sony isn’t the only image sensor company boosting production in this field, as Bloomberg reports that arch-rival Samsung is also boosting production to meet customer demand. In any event, Sony has previously stated that it’s targeting a 60% share of revenue in the segment for the fiscal year ending in March 2026.

It’s encouraging news for the two companies nonetheless, as smartphone demand has plateaued in recent years. But the move to triple and quad camera setups means that even a drop in smartphone production doesn’t necessarily translate to a drop in image sensor demand.

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