Sony to establish new image sensor business

Sony Corporation is set to establish a new operational structure for its devices segment, which will see its image sensors operation move into a separate business, in the new Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation.

Oct 7th, 2015
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Sony Corporation is set to establish a new operational structure for its devices segment, which will see its image sensors operation move into a separate business, in the new Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation.

The aim of the new structure is to enable each of the three main businesses within the segment—semiconductors, battery, and storage media businesses—to more rapidly adapt to their respective changing market environments and to generate sustained growth. The Devices segment will continue to be overseen by Tomoyuki Suzuki, Executive Deputy President and Corporate Executive Officer, Sony Corporation.

Sony’s image sensor operation, which according to an Optics.org article has approximately a 40% share of the global market for such devices, are identified as a key growth driver for the wider Sony Group, according to Optics.org. Following the switch, Terushi Shimizu, currently deputy president of the device solutions business group within Sony, will become president of the Sony Semiconductor Solutions group. Related functions of the group including research and development, business control, and sales, will be transferred to the Semiconductor Solutions affiliate once the new company starts operations in April 2016.

The establishment of the new business was announced as part of a corporate strategy in February 2015, in which Sony outlined plans to split out various business units from central Sony control.

"The aim of these measures is to ensure clearly attributable accountability and responsibility from the perspective of shareholders, management policies with an emphasis on sustainable profit generation, and the acceleration of decision-making processes and reinforcement of business competitiveness," Sony said in apress release. "The decision to establish Sony Semiconductor Solutions forms part of this strategy."

According to Japanese market analyst company Techno Systems Research, Sony accounted for more than 40% of the image sensor market in 2014, with OmniVision Technologies ranking second with 16%. Sony, according to Optics.org, is believed to have benefitted hugely from Apple’s adoption of its image sensors in various products such as the iPhone 6, and earlier in the year, theWall Street Journal reported that Sony was investing more than $1 billion in its image sensor fabrication facilities.

Furthermore, Sony also identifiedCMOS image sensors as a key growth driver for the company, saying it would engage in aggressive capital investment” to boost both production capacity and research efforts, which included an investment of approximately $370 million to increase production of stacked CMOS sensors at sites in Yamagata (Pictured.)

This was reinforced by Sony’s announcement that it would stop production of CCD image sensors in 2017—but still support the products for another decade—in favor of the improving technology and increased adoption of CMOS technology. The Optics.org article cites FRAMOS, which called Sony’s global shutter Exmor R CMOS sensors a "game changer" in that it showed how CMOS could compete with CCD in nearly all machine vision applications, with its back-side illumination, microlenses, and color filter array on its top surface.

View theSony press release.
View the Optics.org article.

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