Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Analyst is Skeptical about Omnivision

Yahoo: Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Tristan Gerra told investors in Dec. 3 note that competition from "ultra-low-cost" rivals based in Asia is driving the company's revenue decline. Gerra added that OmniVision is likely to lose more market share next year as more mobile phone makers switch to higher-resolution sensors -- a market in which the company is not as well-positioned as competitors.

So, it looks like Gerra does not count on Omnivision's BSI and EDoF success, which, in theory, could propel the company to the market leader position in high-res products. I wonder why he is that skeptical?


  1. BSI's yield and cost competitiveness is still not proven.

    EDOF success - this remains to be seen how the market adopts EDOF. EDOF performance is ultra critical in order for it be able to show value over a fixed focus camera. And, EDOF is NOT seen as a poor man's AF either...

  2. To me there is more than just "not proven" and "remains to be seen" in Gerra's opinion. My interpretation is that he does not believe that Omnivision is able to turn these technologies into the market advantage, which essentially means that these technologies fail. Time will tell if Gerra is right.

  3. Analyst always do favor of his big clients, obviously not person like you and me. Buy it after their negative bark

  4. Can you trust the 71 years old CEO to lead the company to the right direction? To me, I don't think so. OV bought new building at the peak price last year. OV bought the CDM and till now, no real MP models.

    Now is BSI... I don't think that the CEO can manage any new technologies.

  5. CDM is a burden for sure. New building still maybe be occupied in full. I never hear CEO need to manage tech issue , why we need CTO ?

  6. I see a number of disgruntled OVT employees here as ANONs :-)

  7. Image Sensor - either you are an investor in OVT or an employee of OVT. Am I right? May be you will not admit. Either way, OVT's success is limited to VGA. It is a fierce climb up the megapixel ladder. Too many big guys up there. Plus, with the BSI launched so soon, it is evident that OVT's pixel technology by itself can't stand. Reliance on BSI is the only way to boost the performance. OVT's field is getting crowded with likes of Hynix, Samsung, Pixelplus etc. I am starting to number the days for OVT!

  8. True, Omnivision goes through difficult times. But so do Aptina, ST, Sony, Hynix and others. Each of them has its own challenges. Still, I would not say the days of any of them are numbered.

    Consumer BSI is a great dream that Omnivision tried to implement. If this does not work, I don't think this would kill the company. It still can go back to FSI and be successful there.

  9. When will we know for sure if BSI of Omni will work. Aren't products supposed to be released next year ?

  10. In this downturn, consolidation is susceptible to happen. Which player do you think will merge or disappear.

  11. > When will we know for sure if BSI of Omni will work.

    I can not speak for Omnivision, but, generally, engineers are often sure that the solution is right around the corner, they just need one more silicon iteration - believe them or not.

    > Which player do you think will merge or disappear?

    Well, in a part it's easy to predict:

    Aptina is officially for sale. Somebody will pick it up eventually.

    ST imaging is rumored to be in merger or alliance talks. So, it's easy to predict too.

    Omnivision-TSMC-Visera-XinTec-WLCSP alliance will survive and stay alone.

    Hynix will absorb Siliconfile and become a volume player.

    Samsung is very resourceful, so it would stay and become stronger.

    Pixelplus will not survive, unfortunately. S.K. has created a unique, home-like atmosphere in the company, many people would miss it. I'd like to be wrong here.

    Pixart-UMC-Mediatek alliance would emerge as a real, strong competitor. Deal with Nintendo gave Pixart the necessary resources, while UMC is eager to compete with TSMC in this area.

    Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic would stay, but have cutbacks.

    Now I'm stepping on shaky ground:

    Himax Imaging will be unable to compete in high-end. I'm not sure it makes sense for Himax to keep this division for low-end only.

    Chinese Galaxycore, Superpix and RuiXin get enough domestic experience to start international sales - may be too wild a guess.

    Promos-MoselVitelic-Cypress alliance would fail because of not enough resources.

    Fujifilm or somebody else will succeed in making high-quality dye-based sensor and make BSI obsolete. All the others will start an urgent catch-up game.

    All in all, I believe there will be a lot of surprises and direction changes - the industry is not that mature like it might seem.

  12. My opinion - three companies that will come out as survivors and have over 80% market share in the next 2-3 years.... are:

    * Samsung
    * Toshiba
    * A consolidated entity - something like Hynix+Omnivision+Aptina+Pixelplus

  13. Well, to image sensor,

    WLCSP now is really closed with SETi.
    TSMC now is making image sensor for Himax (3Mp) and Novatek (5Mp). TSMC also has talks with Aptina. I don't think the alliance is so strong, especially OV is going down... TSMC needs some other guys to fulfill its capa

  14. Anon - I agree TSMC will come out as the third large player supporting a range of fabless sensor vendors like Aptina+OVT+...

    Again my strong opinion is the three companies that will come to dominate imaging landscape will be TOSHIBA, SAMSUNG and TSMC enabled Fabless consolidated entity.

  15. > TSMC now is making image sensor for Himax (3Mp) and Novatek (5Mp).

    I'm glad you mention Novatek as a new CIS player. I was told that Novatek is entering the image sensor market and I've seen its CIS patent application published half a year ago, but there was no official announcement of its new activity.

    So, you say that Novatek already has 5MP silicon in hand, right? What is its pixel size?

    As for Aptina talking with TSMC, my sources do not confirm this. I've seen Digitimes article on that, but I don't believe it. Do you?

  16. Dear "image sensor", no word about Tower as a foundry ?

  17. "A serious player in the imaging industry" your predictions get rid of ST as well. So disappearing or merging ?

  18. > no word about Tower as a foundry?

    With next generation pixels being made in 65nm process, it will be hard for Tower to compete in the mainstream. On the other hand, Tower might need to make cuts to please its creditors. My prediction is that sooner or later the image sensor activity would be axed.

  19. Anon - my sources tell that ST is seriously trying to exit the market. It is no longer profitable for them! They are currently supplying to Nokia and RIM. But, haven't expanded beyond those two! RIM is considering alternate suppliers. And, Nokia is reducing and focusing on the two top players I have mentioned above. ST will exit within the next year. I am reasonably confident about that...

  20. First, ST is trying to expand its customer base. I would not be surprised to learn they got some new design wins. Second, there are many ways to exit image sensor business, including selling it for a reasonable price, setting up some joint venture or sharing expenses with somebody else. I don't think that ST would disappear without a trace, there would be a transformation of some sort.

  21. Novatek - 1.75um pixel pitch, 5Mp

    Well, the BSI is not OV's process. So... Novatek, Himax or Kodak can use that also...

  22. "A serious player in the imaging industry said",

    we heard lots of rumor about ST also. Aptina, Kodak, Sony, or Toshiba can be the JV partner.

    So according to ur source, which one is the best candidate...

  23. Re Novatek: My understanding is that it belongs to UMC camp, more than that, UMC is Novatek's investor. How come that Novatek uses TSMC for its sensors?

    Re TSMC providing BSI to others: I believe Omnivision has some exclusivity period for BSI. So, others get it with a delay.

    Re ST rumors: I've mostly heard that Kodak is in the deal.

  24. Anon: Toshiba or Sony are likely to be the best candidates for ST.


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