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Sony Can’t Keep Up with Image Sensor Demand from Smartphone Makers

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Sony semiconductor simply can’t keep up with the soaring demand for its mobile image sensors. In a recent interview, head of Sony’s semiconductor unit Terushi Shimizu revealed that the company is struggling to keep up, despite running its factories 24 hours per day over the holidays for the second year running.

The revelation came in an interview with Bloomberg, during which Shimizu explained that the company has had to apologize to customers “because we just can’t make enough” image sensors. What’s more, despite heavy investment in future production and a new plant that will be operational by April 2021, Mr. Shimizu doesn’t seem optimistic that Sony will be able to catch up.

“Judging by the way things are going, even after all that investment in expanding capacity, it might still not be enough,” he tells Bloomberg.

According to Sony’s own figures, the company controls over 50% of the mobile image sensor market, and is hoping to increase that number to 60% by 2025. Thanks to multi-camera sensors, as well as increasing demand for time-of-flight and 3D technology, the opportunity is there. Only two things seem to be standing in Sony’s way: Samsung (its main competitor in the space) and the fact that there are only so many hours in the day.

There’s little doubt that demand for Sony’s image sensors will only increase in the coming years; the question is: will the company be able to keep up? Based on Mr. Shimizu’s interview, not even Sony is 100% confident of the answer.

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