The CMOS manufacturing business is decreasing as orders for camera phones decrease, and VGA sensors remain the biggest seller (boo!), although 1.3 megapixel and two megapixel sensors are on the rise, according to an article in EE Times.
The article says Micron Technology, OmniVision, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Toshiba and other CMOS sensor manufacturers are suffering, although orders for the second half of this year are more encouraging. Micron’s CMOS revenues decreased 12 percent to $138 million in its last fiscal quarter, compared to the previous quarter and decreased 35 percent year-over-year, EE Times says.
Also, CMOS revenues has declined because orders for VGA sensors have been stronger than suppliers had predicted.
VGA holding strong
“In 2006, CMOS image sensor sales totaled $4.2 billion, up more than 30 percent from about $3.2 billion in 2005, according to IC Insights. The current outlook for CMOS image sensors is for only 4 percent growth in 2007 to $3.4 billion, after a year-over-year decline in the first half of this year, according to the firm,” EE Times reports.
“Overall, worldwide revenues for image sensors — including both CCDs and CMOS image products — fell about 4 percent in the first six months of 2007, according to the firm.”
Robert Lineback, an analyst with IC Insights, says VGA sensors comprised the majority through 2006 but 1.3 megapixel CMOS sensors are catching up. Lineback says 1.3 megapixel sensors have become even in sales with VGA in 2007, but orders for VGA will still be high at 35 percent.
Hope for better sensors
I’ve had written and will continue to write that VGA sensors typically are awful and are a major reason consumers continue to talk and write about their “crappy camera phone photos.” This will not change until mass market camera phones come standard with higher resolution sensors, better lenses and other components to produce better images.
However, there is some optimistic news.
Doug Freedman, a senior analyst at American Technology Research, says cellular phone growth is increasing and the maturity of two megapixel sensors is sparking the jump in some handsets from VGA to two megapixels rather than 1.3 megapixels. The higher resolution sensor generates increased revenues.