Mobile Phones Driving Image Sensor MarketEl Segundo, Calif., Dec. 12, 2006—Mobile phones have emerged as the single largest market for image sensors, surpassing the entire consumer electronics segment to become the main application for both Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) and CMOS image sensors, according to iSuppli Corp.
Revenue from shipments of image sensors for mobile phones will grow to $5.9 billion by 2010, increasing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 27.4 percent, up from $1.7 billion in 2005. Unit shipments of image sensors to mobile phones will grow to 1.2 billion by 2010, increasing at a CAGR of 19.7 percent, up from 484 million units in 2005.
In 2005, 199 million image sensors were sold for all other applications outside of mobile phones—including digital still cameras. By 2010, this disparity will grow more, with nearly 1.2 billion sensors shipped for mobile handsets and slightly less than 350 million shipped for other applications.
The figure above and attached presents iSuppli’s forecast for camera penetration into the mobile phone market for the period of 2004 to 2010.
Source: iSuppli Corp. December 2006
“Since the handset sensor suppliers’ future is tied directly to the handset makers, it has become critical for sellers of CCDs and CMOS imagers to form relationships at all levels of the mobile-phone supply chain in order to prevent losing market share or design wins to competitors,” said Chris Crotty, senior analyst, consumer electronics, for iSuppli.
“The high volume of sensor sales is likely to result in product commoditization, which in turn will lead to increased industry consolidation,” Crotty added. “Because of this, niche and specialty suppliers are the most at risk and will need to consider other markets for their image sensor products now—rather than later. One such market that will be highly attractive to image sensor makers in the future is the automotive area, where one design win can lead to sustained revenues for many years.”
Standard, but underused
Although cameras have become standard on most mobile phones, studies suggest that actual usage remains much lower, with less than 10 percent of consumers actually using the device as their primary image capture device. Digital still cameras remain the device of choice for capturing images digitally mainly because of the following reasons:
· Lower image quality in mobile handsets
· Drawbacks in form factors and ease of operation in mobile phones
· Difficulties and sometimes the cost of transferring photos from a user’s phone to another device, such as a PC
These challenges are exacerbated by two other factors: marketing from digital still camera manufacturers and user experiences.
In the first case, camera makers have successfully trained consumers into thinking they need more megapixels than they actually require.
The second factor is the difficulties users face with phone cameras when trying to perform common photography tasks like printing, cropping and zooming. Cameras generally need between 4 and 5 megapixels to support these tasks. However, users may have to get accustomed to low-resolution camera phone pictures because at the current rate of advancement, the average camera phone will not reach the 4 to 5 megapixel level range until 2010.
For more information on image sensors, see Crotty’s latest report, CCD and CMOS Image Sensors: Handset Market Driving the Industry. To learn more about this report, please visit: www.isuppli.com/catalog/detail.asp?id=8052