Samsung’s New Tune Isn’t Sweet Music to Sony


Mar. 20 2018, Published 11:07 a.m. ET

Sony dominates the market for camera sensors

Samsung (SSNLF) has set its sights on becoming the world’s top supplier for image sensors, Korean publication Etnews reported. But Samsung’s goal could be Sony’s (SNE) nightmare. 

Sony is currently the leading supplier of image sensors, and it controls more than 45% of the global image sensor market, according to Gartner’s estimates. Samsung comes in a distant second with less than a 20% share of the market.

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Samsung may be looking to dominate the camera sensor market the same way it has dominated the memory chip market. Samsung’s dominance of the memory chip market saw it beat Intel (INTC) to become the world’s top semiconductor company by revenue in 2017. Samsung’s memory business benefited from growing demand for larger memory capacity in smartphones.

Dual-camera smartphones drive demand for imaging systems

The image sensor market that Samsung is aiming to dominate was valued at $11.4 billion in 2016, according to Zion Market Research. The worldwide market for image sensors is expected to surpass $20.8 billion by 2022.

The adoption of dual-cameras in smartphones, the rising demand for security cameras, and the use of imaging systems in vehicles—especially in self-driving vehicles—are some of the factors fueling the demand for image sensors. Image sensors are used in self-driving vehicles to enable safe autonomous driving.

Competition could drive down component prices

For smartphone and camera companies such as Apple, BlackBerry (BB), Snap (SNAP), and Canon (CAJ), a fierce Samsung-Sony competition in the image sensor market could lead to lower component prices, creating room to improve profitability.


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