If you’re enjoying some time off over the holidays, spare a thought for the good folks at Sony’s semiconductor unit. For the second year in a row, the Japanese electronics giant is running its chip factories 24 hours a day through the holidays—such is the demand for its image sensors. Smartphones are driving the demand, motivating the company to double its spending on the business this fiscal year. Sony is also currently building a new plant in Nagasaki, which will begin operations in April 2021.
“Judging by the way things are going, even after all that investment in expanding capacity, it might still not be enough,” says the head of Sony’s semiconductor unit, Terushi Shimizu. “We are having to apologize to customers because we just can’t make enough.” While smartphone market growth is slowing down, many models now boast two or three front cameras, ensuring that Sony’s image sensor sales continue to skyrocket.
By some estimates, around 70% of all smartphone camera sensors are made by Sony—and as much as half of all image sensors.
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