Sony Corp wishes to diversity its customer base for image sensors and go beyond its top client, Apple, Inc. A senior executive discussed this objective on Tuesday even as the company is waiting for orders from the iPhone maker that would gave its sales a 20% boost in this fiscal year. In recent years, sensors have turned out to be one of the strongest products of Sony Corp as its mobile operations and TV struggle to gain traction in their respective markets. While the Japanese firm has fallen behind competitors such as Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. in terms of smartphones, its sensors are still a component in the their handsets.
According to Sony’s head of device solution business, which include image sensors that are chips for converting optical images into electronic signals, Tomoyuki Suzuki, the sales of these sensors is expected to see a growth of 100 billion yen i.e. $894 million to about 550 billion yen in the fiscal year ending in March. This would be considerably slower than the rise experienced last year, which was about 40%. However, Suzuki said that they were struggling to keep up with the strong demand. This would mean that this unit can offer continued strength to the firm and can prove to be an important factor in turning its fortunes around.
In April, Suzuki was given a promotion, which made him executive deputy president, thereby reflecting the company’s recognition of the role that sensors are playing. He said in an interview that they were experiencing some good demand, which wasn’t slacking off any time soon. Even though Sony has never disclosed its client list, everyone is aware that Apple is the firm’s top customer and closely followed by South Korean rival Samsung. Analysts said that Samsung had only recently switched to Sony’s sensors for its new flagship the Galaxy S6 while the S5 had contained their own sensors.
It was also mentioned by analysts that high-end models of Chinese handset makers such as Xiaomi also use Sony’s sensors. Suzuki said that they want a wide array of customers. He said that the semiconductors business is sensitive as companies end up making losses if they don’t use their production capacity. Therefore, they need to have a balance with numerous customers in order to avoid any volatility. In April, Sony said that it would bolster its sensor production capacity by spending 45 billion yen this fiscal year on top of the investment announced in February, which was about 105 billion.
Suzuki said that the Japanese company would most definitely fulfill the requirements of their top customers, but they were expanding capacity by keeping in mind Chinese smartphone makers. He also asserted that the firm’s strength in sensors was due to 30 years of experience that it had in imaging technology, which had initially been applied to tis video cameras. However, it was able to get an edge over the competition as it could make sensors for smartphones that produced high-quality images in low light.