Bloomberg, Business Week publish few quotes from an interview with Yasuhiro Ueda, SVP for Sony’s image sensor unit. Currently, Sony controls almost a third of the $7.6B market for CMOS iameg sensors, selling imagers for Apple iPhone 5 and 4S, Samsung Galaxy S4 and other leading smartphone brands. Worldwide CMOS sensors shipments rose 25$ to 2.5B units last year and may show a similar increase this year, according to an estimate by TSR. That may slow down to about 11% in 2015, according to TSR forecast.
"We have a high sense of crisis after seeing the high-end smartphone market start to saturate this year," said Ueda. "Our plan is to draw a growth strategy in an area where we see shipment potential of 10 billion units a year."
One of the company's expansion area is medical, such as endoscopes, Ueda said. Another area of future growth may come from devices such as Google Glass, according to Ueda. "Image sensors will be crucial device for wearable computers," Ueda said. Sony is "very keen to expand our business in this area." Apple and Samsung’s planned watch devices may lift sales of wearable gadgets to 70M units in 2017 from 15M this year, according to Juniper Research.
Regarding other areas of growth, "If you want to make self-driving cars, you need several sensors in the car," Ueda said. "Hand-gesture TV sets may see a booming demand, while house-clean robots can probably do a better job if image sensor was added."
"Sony’s CMOS business, which has seen robust orders from smartphone makers may be reaching a turning point as demand shifts toward middle- to low-end handsets," said Ryosuke Katsura, an analyst at UBS AG in Tokyo. "There will be a higher risk going forward for the business" unless it finds a new growth driver, the analyst said.