The image sensor market reached $6 billion in 2006, a jump of over 30% over 2005, with sales expected to grow another 14% in 2007, according to a new market report from Strategies Unlimited. The market will gradually slow in the next several years, but the yea r-over-year growth will still provide large opportunities and challenges as the leading players jockey for position.
While the overall market is becoming more predictable, cameraphones and digital cameras continue to exceed expectations. Strong growth is also expected in security cameras and in digital radiography. Automotive applications are moving slowly but steadily into production, but the segment remains small for now.
The top five suppliers continue to hold about 2/3 of the total market share, but membership in the top five has changed. Sony and Micron are nearing $1 billion each in annual revenues. Overall, there are about 50 suppliers, about twice the number in 1997, but unchanged in the last few years. That is, for every Atmel or ESS Technology that sells or closes its image sensor business, there is a Planet82 or a ProMOS Technologies that enters.
CMOS image sensors now dominate both unit and revenue share, mostly owing to the continued rise of the cameraphone market. Micron has shot to the top position in CMOS arrays, with other semiconductor manufacturers such as ST and Samsung also showing strong gains. While CCDs continue to grow in dollar value, there is some consolidation in the market share, with the possibility that Sanyo Electric will exit the business.
“This market continues to promise many interesting opportunities,” says Tom Hausken, director of components research at Strategies Unlimited. “A few of the developments that we are monitoring include 1.4-micron pitch pixels, 90-nm lithography, embedded laptop cameras, wider use of electronics to substitute for optics, and even cameras based on optic flow.”
Founded in 1979, Strategies Unlimited specializes in market research and strategic consulting directed at optoelectronics, photovoltaic components and systems, optical networking, and compound semiconductors.