Report says image sensor market ends steep growth, faces cyclic era

AUGUST 18, 2009--According to Strategies Unlimited, the average growth rate for the image sensor market will return to single digits in coming years, following more than a decade of 22% compound annual growth.

AUGUST 18, 2009--According to industry analysis firm Strategies Unlimited (Mountain View, CA, USA;, the market for image sensors will decline to $6.4 billion in 2009, a drop of 11% from 2008 and the first decline since Strategies Unlimited began tracking the market in 1997. But the average growth rate will return to single-digits in coming years, following more than a decade of 22% compound annual growth, shown in the figure below.

The current global economic cycle is driving a temporary decline, but cycles will have a stronger effect going forward, now that the convergence of forces leading to rapid growth in image sensor revenues for camera phones is maturing, claims the market research firm. There will still be growth in unit sales in coming years for image sensors overall, but short-term fluctuations in demand, periods of oversupply and shortage, and severe price pressure will make it more challenging to stay competitive than before.

Japan used to dominate world image sensor production, and still manufactures more than 90% of the world's CCDs. CCDs continue to dominate in digital still cameras and security cameras. Even so, Fujifilm stopped production of image sensors for its line of cameras in 2007. Sony is thinking of stopping its production of CMOS arrays for camera phones, and Panasonic has already done so.

Meanwhile, Korean and Taiwanese suppliers are gaining market share, especially for camera phones. Samsung grew 61% from 2006 to 2008, placing it among the top suppliers. The researchers also report seeing increased competition from other Korean and Taiwanese companies, such as SETi, SiliconFile Technologies, and PixArt Imaging. Hynix reentered the image sensor business in the second half of 2008. These companies are focusing on the China handset market.

"Image Sensors: Market Review and Forecast--2009" is the fifth in a series by Strategies Unlimited. It includes all image-sensing applications in the visible spectrum, including scintillator-coated arrays for x-ray radiography. The study draws heavily on Strategies Unlimited's interviews with suppliers in Japan, Korea, the United States, and Europe, combined with its deep expertise in this market.

-- Posted by Vision Systems Design,

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