Monday, April 05, 2010

Historical View on Image Sensor Market

EETimes has an interesting article about semiconductor industry ever-changing leadership by Walden Rhines, Mentor Graphics CEO. It has an interesting passage about image sensor market:

"One of the more amazing aspects of the increasing pervasion of semiconductors into new applications is the significant growth in revenue of existing applications as the cost per unit decreases. Consider the digital camera. Most of the semiconductor content of a digital camera consists of non-volatile FLASH memory and the image sensor. In the early 1990s, solid state image sensors sold for $20-25. Image sensors were a negligible portion of the semiconductor total available market (TAM) until the current decade. During the 1990s the price per sensor fell dramatically from the $20-25 range to about $5. At this price point, unit volume soared, making image sensors more than 3 percent of the semiconductor TAM in the last few years. ...The result was a substantial net growth in the market for digital cameras and the semiconductors required to make them."


  1. the selling volume is in million ??? I think that that should be in billion, no ?

  2. millions was the first thing I noticed too. Maybe I could get the guy who created the chart to be my accountant.

  3. There were 110,000,000 DSC/DSLR units sold in 2009 - 11% decline from 2008. Aside from being utterly wrong on their forecast, this is also revisionist history. Sensor ASP declination was NOT the reason for mass adoption of DSCs. These guys put the chicken before the egg. Mass adoption was primarily demand driven by a number of factors, including broadband adoption because until cameras have wireless, seamless connectivity, or any means of viewing, storage and distribution, they will be forever teathered to PC adoption and broadband adoption. Sensor providers saw a slow declination of ASP due to demand and gains in process. It was not ASPs driving this demand.

    Japan Inc. has totally, miserably failed in this regard, to monetize these images, thinking that selling their devices was all they had to do to provide a profitable business. Imagine if Apple/Jobs just sold iPhones, iTouches or iPads without content in their business model. Japan INc.'s own greediness, lack of ability to cooperate and lack of vision over the past 12 years has left them holding the bag on a business that has zero profitability except on the extreme high end. Their very lucky Apple abandoned this business in 1995. The value proposition for consumers regarding DSCs is stuck in a rut and won't move beyond current adoption levels until Japan Inc. figures out a business model that circumvents the PC.


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