Imaging market share shifting

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The image sensor market reached $6bn in 2006, an increase of more than 30 per cent compared to 2005, according to a new market report from Strategies Unlimited. Sales are expected to grow another 14 per cent in 2007, with the market expected to slow gradually during the next few years.

While the overall market is becoming more predictable, camera phones and digital cameras continue to exceed expectations. Strong growth is also expected in security cameras and in digital radiography. Automotive applications are moving slowly but steadily into production, but the segment remains small for now.

The top five suppliers continue to hold about two thirds of the total market share, but membership in the top five has changed. Sony and Micron are nearing $1bn each in annual revenues. Overall, there are about 50 suppliers, a number that has not changed in recent years. That is, for every Atmel or ESS Technology that sells or closes its image sensor business, there is a Planet82 or a ProMOS Technologies that enters the market.

CMOS image sensors now dominate both unit and revenue share, mostly due to the continued rise of the camera phone market. Micron has shot to the top position in CMOS arrays, with other semiconductor manufacturers such as ST, MagnaChip, and Samsung also showing strong gains. While CCDs continue to grow in dollar value, there is some consolidation in the market share, with the possibility that Sanyo Electric will exit the business.

‘This market continues to promise many interesting opportunities,’ saysTom Hausken, director of components research at Strategies Unlimited. ‘A few of the developments that we are monitoring include 1.4um pitch pixels, 90nm lithography, embedded laptop cameras, wider use of electronics to substitute for optics, and even cameras based on optic flow.’

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